Dr. Hickson joined the Department of Pediatrics in 1982 and served six years as Vice Chairman and Chief of Pediatric Outpatient Services for the Vanderbilt Clinic. In 2003, Dr. Hickson was appointed Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy. In 2005, he was named Director of Clinical Risk and Loss Prevention and Chairman of the Self-Insurance Trust Committee.
Since 1990, Dr. Hickson’s research has focused on why families choose to file suit, why certain physicians attract a disproportionate share of claims and how to identify and intervene with high-risk physicians. His work has resulted in over 170 peer review articles and chapters; educational initiatives to promote disclosure of medical errors and address behaviors that undermine a culture of safety; and the development of PARS® (Patient Advocacy Reporting System) and CORSsm (Coworker Observation Reporting System), programs that use unsolicited patient and coworker complaint data as the basis for tiered interventions on high-risk clinicians. The PARS® and CORSsm programs have been implemented in more than 170 hospitals and health systems in the US.
In 2013, Dr. Hickson was appointed Senior Vice President of Quality, Safety, and Risk Prevention for the Vanderbilt Health Systems to support VUMC’s pursuit of high reliability and professional accountability. Dr. Hickson provides leadership in the conceptualization, development, implementation, and measurement of the Medical Center’s approach to quality, patient safety, and risk prevention.
Dr. Hickson serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) and as Chair of the Board of Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS). He was also Chair of the Quality Care Committee for the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) and was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Quality Improvement.
In 2014 Dr. Hickson was recognized by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation with Professionalism Article Prize and as the first Dr. Allan D. and Claire S. Jenson Lecturer in Professionalism and Ethics for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Additional honors include the Excellence in Research and Teaching award from the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, the National Healthcare Patient Advocacy award from the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy and the Vanguard Award for the Advancement of Patient Safety from the Doctor’s Company Foundation.
Dr. Hickson received a BS from the University of Georgia and MD from Tulane University School of Medicine and completed his pediatric residency and a fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.