Dr. Hickson is Senior Vice President of Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention, and Joseph C. Ross Chair of Medical Education and Administration at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. 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 150 peer review articles and chapters; several 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), a program that uses unsolicited patient complaint data as the basis for tiered interventions on high-risk peer colleagues and has been implemented in more than 70 hospitals and health systems nationwide.
Not only has the PARS process successfully identified and reduced risk for clinical practice areas and service units with disproportionate rates of patient dissatisfaction, but it also has been adapted to facilitate organization-wide quality improvement initiatives, such as hand hygiene compliance and central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates. The VUMC hand hygiene initiative was recently awarded the 2014 Barry Farr Award from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), which recognizes the best article submitted to the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE) in 2013 as selected by the editors.
In 2013, Dr. Hickson was appointed Senior Vice President of Quality, Safety, and Risk Prevention for Vanderbilt Health Systems to further support VUMC's pursuit of high reliability and accountability. This newly created position effectively consolidates oversight responsibilities from the areas of quality improvement, patient safety, and risk prevention to bring greater strategic alignment to these intrinsically related missions throughout a widely distributed geographic enterprise. In this new role, Hickson is charged with furthering the Vanderbilt way for addressing safety and quality and bringing greater alignment among the Medical Center's efforts to improve quality and the patient experience through collaborations spanning the institution with informatics, hospital operations, learning initiatives, and the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network. Through his expertise in identifying and addressing unreasonable variation in human performance, promoting human accountability, and advancing major organization-wide improvement, Dr. Hickson will provide leadership in the conceptualization, development, implementation, and measurement of the Medical Center's approach to quality, patient safety, and adverse event reduction.
Dr. Hickson currently serves as Chair of the Board of Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS). He served as 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. Dr. Hickson has been recognized by 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. He completed his pediatric residency and a fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.