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Member Spotlight: Adrian White

Posted By Joanna Carmona, Thursday, February 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2017

The American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS) is a membership program for professionals

and others interested in patient safety. This is part of a series of member profiles. 

by Joanna Carmona 

Adrian White

Adrian White is a member of ASPPS


Adrian White, RN, MBA, CPPS, Ambulatory Safety Outcomes and Performance Improvement Director

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

What are the biggest patient safety challenges you face at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center?

“The greatest challenge I face in my role at UT Southwestern is understanding the diversity of services we offer on our campus. Like many other academic medical centers, we deliver an array of services with various requirements from a regulatory and accreditation perspective. Outpatient and ambulatory areas are a melting pot for this diversity, resulting in slightly different ways of doing things in clinics that are on the same floor, or even share the same waiting area, but fall under a different governance structure.  


"While safety is a common thread in all of these areas, we need to ensure that a level of consistency exists in our practices. To address these challenges, a group within our organization, representing a wide variety of key stakeholders, spent six months creating a strategy document to build a comprehensive safety plan with a focus in the ambulatory and outpatient areas. While we recognize how different each department is, it is important for us to ensure that we are all connected and working collaboratively.”


"We need to have an openness of mind and heart that errors occur, despite our best intentions."

—Adrian White

Tell us why you chose to become a member of ASPPS?

“I wanted to become a member of an organization with a tried-and-tested history in patient safety. NPSF has its finger on the safety pulse, and the resources it provides helped me from a practical viewpoint in framing our outpatient safety plan.


"It also allows you the opportunity to build a support network of safety professionals around you. I have used the NPSF message boards to ask patient safety questions and I’ve had multiple people respond, many of whom lived through the same situation and have the bruises to show for it. Instead of reinventing the wheel, these colleagues have given me something to consider and adopt to my own situation.”

What made you interested in joining the patient safety field?

“The first stems back to my nurse training. One of my best friends through nursing school was involved with a medical error while we worked together in orthopedics. How everything was handled after the incident occurred really upset me, and our group. There was a lot of finger pointing and blame, when, in fact, there were multiple processes that weren’t followed. For weeks I wondered ‘where were the stop gaps to prevent us, mere students, from falling into traps.’ It was a positive outcome in the end, but the incident really stuck with me.


"Fast forward a few years and at 24 I became a nurse manager in Ireland who thought he knew everything. But I made a drastic medication error, too. The patient was fine in the end, but my actions could have killed him. This made me realize that an overdose of self-confidence will set you up for failure, and your world can come crumbling down at any moment with potentially disastrous consequences. These two personal experiences made me think: What is patient safety all about? Since then, the investigator in me is always asking ‘how’ and ‘why,’ and safety issues have plenty of answers to share.”


What keeps you up at night?

“When you talk with colleagues about a safety issue and they respond with: ‘That wouldn’t happen in my area’ or ‘Why would someone in their right mind do that?’, that apathy or arrogance worries me. We are all flawed individuals, and things will happen. We need to have an openness of mind and heart that errors occur, despite our best intentions.


"I also worry that people are afraid to speak up. When a safety event happens here at my institution, I want people to know that we should talk about it. I want them to hear someone say ‘You’ve done the right thing by reporting this issue. We just want to know what happened and to discuss ways to ensure that it won’t happen again.’ Having that openness and willingness to discuss these issues will make patients safer in the future.”


What is something unique about you?

“I am an immigrant. I came to the US from Ireland in 2008. My upbringing in Ireland and my training as a nurse in a very different health care system has helped me bring a diverse lens in reviewing issues I encounter working here in the US. Also, I have learned that my ‘brogue’ is a very powerful tool, and quite often my colleagues ask ‘How did you get away with saying that?’”



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Joanna Carmona is communications coordinator at the National Patient Safety Foundation. Contact her at


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