Deirdre K. Thornlow, PhD, RN, CPHQ

Deirdre K. Thornlow, PhD, RN, CPHQ is an advanced practice nurse with over 20 years experience in healthcare leadership. She has held numerous leadership positions throughout her career, including Director of Quality Operations at The George Washington University Hospital and Gerontology Project Director for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Dr. Thornlow is an Assistant Professor at the Duke University School of Nursing, a John A. Hartford Foundation Claire M. Fagin Fellow, and a Senior Fellow in the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.


Dr. Thornlow is pursuing a program of health services research that capitalizes upon her expertise in acute care quality and patient safety. She completed several related research projects as first steps toward understanding the relationship among hospital characteristics, patient safety practices, and patient outcomes. Her dissertation research, Relationship of Hospital Systems and Utilization of Patient Safety Practices to Patient Outcomes, was funded by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research and was selected as the 2007 most meritorious dissertation by the University of Virginia School of Nursing faculty. In this study, Dr. Thornlow reported that hospitals using fewer patient safety practices demonstrated higher rates for certain adverse events. She has since expanded this work to focus on patient safety in hospitalized older adults by examining the role that nurses play in preventing, mitigating or even exacerbating postoperative complications in hospitalized older adults. Dr. Thornlow is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), and a member of the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ), Academy Health, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the Gerontological Society of America.

Academic Program Affiliations
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
  • PhD in Nursing Program
  • Master of Science in Nursing Program
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice Program
Education
  • PhD - University of Virginia School of Nursing
  • MS - University of California-Los Angeles School of Nursing
  • BSN - Pennsylvania State University
Research Interests
● Health services research
● Patient safety in acute care hospitals
● Quality of care in acute care hospitals
● Quality and patient safety outcomes in hospitalized older adults
Awards and Honors
  • 2010 || 2010-2012 Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow, Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Program (funded by John H. Hartford Foundation/Atlantic Philanthropies)
  • 2007 || Outstanding PhD Student Publication, The University of Virginia
  • 2007 || Phyllis J. Verhonick Research Award, The University of Virginia
  • 2006 || Barbara Brodie Scholars Award, The University of Virginia
  • 2004 || National Research Service Award, National Institute of Nursing Research
  • 2003 || Doctoral Scholarship, University of Virginia School of Nursing
  • 1992 || Clinical Nurse Specialist Trainee Award, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • 1992 || Graduate Scholarship Award, Kaiser Permanente
  • 1992 || Professional Nurse Traineeship, UCLA
  • 1988 || Achievement Medals, U. S. Army
Representative Publications
  • 2011 -- PubMed # : 21037484 -- Fuchs, M. A. and Sexton, D. J. and Thornlow, D. K. and Champagne, M. T. Evaluation of an evidence-based, nurse-driven checklist to prevent hospital-acquired catheter-associated urinary tract infections in intensive care units. J Nurs Care Qual. Apr-Jun, 2011 26(2); 101-9.
  • 2010 -- PubMed # : 20304374 -- Thornlow, D. K. and McGuinn, K. A necessary sea change for nurse faculty development: spotlight on quality and safety. J Prof Nurs. March, 2010 26(2); 71-81.
  • 2010 -- PubMed # : 19927965 -- Thornlow, D. K. Increased risk for patient safety incidents in hospitalized older adults. Medsurg Nurs. 18(5); 287-91.
  • 2009 -- PubMed # : 19643409 -- Thornlow, D. K. and Anderson, R. and Oddone, E. Cascade iatrogenesis: factors leading to the development of adverse events in hospitalized older adults. Int J Nurs Stud. November, 2009 46(11); 1528-35.
  • 2009 -- PubMed # : 19625831 -- Thornlow, D. K. and Merwin, E. Managing to improve quality: the relationship between accreditation standards, safety practices, and patient outcomes. Health Care Manage Rev. October, 2009 34(3); 262-72.
  • 2008 -- PubMed # : 18942535 -- Payne, J. K. and Thornlow, D. K. Clinical perspectives on portable do-not-resuscitate orders. J Gerontol Nurs. 34(10); 11-6.
  • 2008 -- PubMed # : 18709751 -- Thornlow, D. K. Nursing patient safety research in rural health care settings. Annu Rev Nurs Res. 26; 195-218.
  • 2006 -- PubMed # : 16564478 -- Thornlow, D. K. and Auerhahn, C. and Stanley, J. A necessity not a luxury: preparing advanced practice nurses to care for older adults. J Prof Nurs. 22(2); 116-22.
  • 2006 -- PubMed # : 16564471 -- Latimer, D. G. and Thornlow, D. K. Incorporating geriatrics into baccalaureate nursing curricula: laying the groundwork with faculty development. J Prof Nurs. 22(2); 79-83.
  • 2006 -- PubMed # : 16501398 -- Thornlow, D. K. and Stukenborg, G. J. The association between hospital characteristics and rates of preventable complications and adverse events. Med Care. 44(3); 265-9.
  • 2006 -- PubMed # : 17078418 -- Merwin, E. and Thornlow, D. Methodologies used in nursing research designed to improve patient safety. Annu Rev Nurs Res. 24; 273-92.
  • 2005 -- PubMed # : 16179239 -- Berman, A. and Mezey, M. and Kobayashi, M. and Fulmer, T. and Stanley, J. and Thornlow, D. and Rosenfeld, P. Gerontological nursing content in baccalaureate nursing programs: comparison of findings from 1997 and 2003. J Prof Nurs. 21(5); 268-75.
  • 1995 -- PubMed # : 7774269 -- Thornlow, D. K. Is chest physiotherapy necessary after cardiac surgery? Crit Care Nurse. 15(3); 39-46; quiz 47-8.
  • 1993 -- PubMed # : 8358464 -- Thornlow, D. K. Case study: heart transplantation--increased incidence of acute rejection in female recipients. Am J Crit Care. 2(2); 157-60.
  • 2008 -- Thornlow, D. Relationship of Patient Safety Practices to Patient Outcomes. Saarbrucken, Germany: VDM Publishing 2008 .
  • 2005 -- PubMed # : 15739682 -- Berman, A. and Thornlow, D. Your bright future in geriatric nursing. Imprint. 52(1); 24-6.
  • 2011 -- Thornlow, D. K. Advanced practice nursing: inquiry and evaluation. 2011 .
  • 2010 -- PubMed # : 20546364 -- Baernholdt, M. and Jennings, B. M. and Merwin, E. and Thornlow, D. What does quality care mean to nurses in rural hospitals? J Adv Nurs. June, 2010 66(6); 1346-55.
  • 2003 -- Berman, A. and Thornlow, D Focus on geriatric patients. American Nursing Student. 2003 5(1); 10-11.
  • 2011 -- PubMed # : 22372083 -- Vinson, M. H. and McCallum, R. and Thornlow, D. K. and Champagne, M. T. Design, implementation, and evaluation of population-specific telehealth nursing services. Nurs Econ. September-October, 2011 29(5); 265-72.
  • 2011 -- PubMed # : 21836453 -- Carman, M. J. and Phipps, J. and Raley, J. and Li, S. and Thornlow, D. Use of a clinical decision support tool to improve guideline adherence for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Skin and soft tissue infections. Adv Emerg Nurs J. December, 2011 33(3); 252-66.
  • 2012 -- PubMed # : 22543067 -- Segall, N. and Bonifacio, A. S. and Schroeder, R. A. and Barbeito, A. and Rogers, D. and Thornlow, D. K. and Emery, J. and Kellum, S. and Wright, M. C. and Mark, J. B. and Durham VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry Can we make postoperative patient handovers safer? A systematic review of the literature. Anesth Analg. July, 2012 115(1); 102-15.
  • 2013 -- PubMed # : 23117793 -- Turner, K. and Frush, K. and Hueckel, R. and Relf, M. V. and Thornlow, D. and Champagne, M. T. Implementation of the Josie King Care Journal in a pediatric intensive care unit: a quality improvement project. J Nurs Care Qual. Jul-Sept, 2013 28(3); 257-64.
  • 2013 -- PubMed # : 24297156 -- Thornlow, D. K. and Oddone, E. and Anderson, R. Cascade iatrogenesis: a case-control study to detect postoperative respiratory failure in hospitalized older adults. Res Gerontol Nurs. March, 2014 7(2); 66-77.
  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 24279889 -- Heflin, M. T. and Pinheiro, S. O. and Konrad, T. R. and Egerton, E. O. and Thornlow, D. K. and White, H. K. and McConnell, E. J. Design and evaluation of a prelicensure interprofessional course on improving care transitions. Gerontol Geriatr Educ. January, 2014 35(1); 41-63.
  • 2006 -- Thornlow, D., Latimer, D., Kingsborough, J., Arietti, L.T. Caring for an Aging America: Guide for Nursing Faculty. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2006 .
Grant Funding (Selected)
  • Cascade Iatrogenesis: Postoperative Respiratory Failure in Hospitalized Older Adults
    John A. Hartford Foundation
    10-224
    09/2010 to 08/2012
    Role: PI
    Project Goal: Examine factors associated with older adults’ risk for developing a common cascading complication, including events that may ‘trigger’ the cascade towards postoperative respiratory failure, yet may be preventable through nursing care. Planned investigations include both qualitative and quantitative methods to identify and test nursing care variables that may explain cascade iatragenesis.
  • ‘Cascade Iatrogenesis:’ Postoperative Respiratory Failure in Hospitalized Older Adults
    Duke University School of Nursing Office of Research Affairs
    01/2009 to 12/2009
    Role: PI
    Project Goal: This study is designed to investigate the early events in cascade iatrogenesis, using the example of postoperative respiratory failure. Investigator will examine factors associated with older adults’ risk of developing postoperative respiratory failure, including precursor events that may trigger the initial cascade and the nursing care variables that may prevent or mitigate risk.
  • Mentoring Grant in Gerontology
    University of Iowa Gerontological Nursing Intervention Research Center
    01/2008 to 12/2008
    Role: PI
    Project Goal: To establish mentoring relationship between junior and senior faculty. Dr. Marita Titler, Professor and Director of Research, Quality and Outcomes Management for the Department of Nursing Services and Patient Care at The University of Iowa Health Center, is an expert in nursing outcomes / effectiveness research and has agreed to serve as mentor.
  • Outcomes of Nursing Management Practice in Nursing Homes
    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    R56-NR003178-09
    09/2009 to 08/2010
    Role: Co-Investigator
    Project goal: Test the benefit of a new staff interaction intervention (CONNECT) over and above a falls quality improvement intervention in reducing patient fall rates in nursing homes.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
    1D09-HP14827-01-001D09-HP14827-01-00
    07/2009 to 06/2012
    Role: Faculty
    Project Goal: To develop, implement, and operate the Duke University School of Nursing DNP program, the first in North Carolina.
  • Geriatric Education Center: Transitions of Care for the Elderly: An Inter-professional Course for Advanced Learners
    Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions
    09/2007 to 08/2010
    Role: Faculty
    Project Goal: To increase the ability of interdisciplinary health professions faculty to engage in interdisciplinary faculty development and coursework in the areas of palliative care, transitional care, and long-term care through continuing education and mini-fellowship activities.
  • Gerontology Mentoring Grant
    University of Iowa Gerontological Nursing Intervention Research Center
    09/2007 to 08/2008
    Role: PI
    Project Goal: To establish mentoring relationship between junior and senior faculty. Dr. Marita Titler, Professor and Director of Research, Quality and Outcomes Management for the Department of Nursing Services and Patient Care at The University of Iowa Health Center, is an expert in nursing outcomes / effectiveness research and has agreed to serve as mentor.
  • Relationship of Patient Safety to Patient Outcomes
    National Research Service Award, National Institute of Nursing Research
    F31 NR009320-01
    09/2004 to 05/2007
    Role: PI
  • Creating Careers in Geriatric Nursing
    John A. Hartford Foundation
    10/2001 to 10/2005
    Role: Project Director
    Project Goal: The grant provides funds to schools of nursing, which in turn award graduate education scholarships to exemplary students who have demonstrated leadership potential and dedication to caring for older adults. The grant eliminates financial barriers to education and encourages networking, mentorship, role modeling, and leadership skill development.
  • Enhancing Geriatric Nursing Education for Baccalaureate and Advanced Practice Nursing Programs (Renewal: Enhancing Gerontology in Senior-level Undergraduate Courses)
    John A. Hartford Foundation
    05/2001 to 05/2005
    Role: Project Director
    Project Goal: To support gerontology curriculum development and new clinical experiences in 30 selected baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs.
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