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Debora Simmons, PhD, RN, FAAN

Assistant Professor

Department of Clinical and Health Informatics


[email protected] | 713-500-3900

Dr. Debora Simmons, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, has an extensive background in technology and complex patient care systems. Her career has focused on healthcare quality and safety as a clinician, educator, leader, researcher, and advocate.

Dr. Simmons has held leadership positions throughout her career. She was the Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of Catholic Health Initiatives St. Luke's Health System. She was recognized by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources with a management award for The National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Healthcare, Strategic Healthcare, I.T. "SHARPC" grant, P.I. Dr. Jiajie Zhang as Executive Director of the Center. Dr. Simmons contributed significantly as an Associate Director for the Institute of Healthcare Excellence at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and was a distinguished member of the University Of Texas Center Of Excellence for Patient Safety Research and Practice, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Earlier in her career at Northwestern University, she was a founding member and Associate Director of the Patient Safety Education Project at The Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society.

Simmons's foundational patient safety research in inadvertent tubing misconnections between physiologically incompatible systems led to the change in luer connectors standards across the United States. Through work with the International Standards Organization and the American Association of Medical Instrumentation, she contributed to the connectors' awareness, advocacy, and design changes. Her work has been highlighted by publications in The World Health Organization, ECRI, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, ISMP, the FDA, and CMS, a New York Times article, two sentinel event alerts from the Joint Commission, and numerous professional and peer-reviewed publications. Conversion to these newly designed connectors is in progress across the United States and has been completed in Europe and Japan.

Her work in Health Information Technology spans her career. Early in her career, she established the first program for managing left ventricular assist patients at home through telemonitoring in Texas. She later developed telehealth programs for free-standing emergency departments and stroke assessment. She has authored HIT industry advisories across infection control, usability, safety, and workflow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The author of numerous lectures, peer-reviewed publications, and standards, Simmons most recently completed work on the American Nurses Association Nursing Informatics Scope and Standards 3rd Edition and a new chapter of Hamric & Hanson's Advanced Practice Nursing 7th Edition, chapter 22, Future Technologies Influencing Advanced Practice Nursing.

Dr. Simmons' impact extends to regulatory and legislative arenas, where she has provided expert testimony on behalf of healthcare providers at the Texas State Legislature, Department of State Health Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and the National Institute of Health. She is a subject matter expert for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the American Association of Medical Instrumentation, and the International Organization for Standardization AAMI/QM. Dr. Simmons is a past trustee of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and continues to advise ISMP activities and publications. Her effect on industry standards is further underscored by a decade-long service on the Nomenclature and Safety Committee of the United States Pharmacopeia, where she contributed significantly to patient safety and labeling standards. She led the first nonpunitive error reporting program for nursing in the United States and the first close-call reporting system across 21 hospitals in Texas. She serves as Chair of the Eligibility and Disciplinary Advisory Committee for the Texas Board of Nursing. She is an advisor to the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center and a reviewer for National Science Foundation Reviewer SBIR/STTR (Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer).

Dr. Simmons has an associate nursing degree from San Jacinto College and a bachelor of science in nursing from Texas Woman's University. Simmons attended UTHealth's Jane and Robert Cizik School of Nursing and earned her M.S. in nursing; she was awarded her doctoral degree in nursing science from Texas Woman's University. Simmons is an advanced practice nurse certified as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Acute and Critical care. She is a Billy Brown Fellow and Virginia Henderson Fellow of Sigma Theta Tau, and a Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholar. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She teaches with a focus on Clinical and Health Informatics, including Evidence-based practice, foundational informatics, pharmacy informatics, patient safety, and quality.

  • Tell us about your research center and/or what research/work you are currently working on?
    Currently updating tubing misconnection research and applied informatics
  • What does the future of your research look like?
    Assisting Applied Informatics programs
  • What does the future of informatics look like?
    Assisting Applied Informatics programs Bright- there are no limits other than your own imagination fueled by hard work and science


  • PhD, Nursing Science, 2011, Texas Woman’s University
  • MS, Nursing, 1999, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Jane and Robert Cizik School of Nursing
  • BS, Nursing, 1990, Texas Woman’s University
  • Associate Degree in Nursing, 1987, San Jacinto College

Areas of Expertise

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Clinical Effectiveness
  • Regulation

Staff Support

Lisa Salazar | 956-452-1269


  1. J Jo, TT Tran, ND Beyda, D Simmons, J Hendrickson, MS Almutairi, FS Alnezary, AJ Gonzales-Luna1, EJ Septimus, and KW Garey. Development of the Invasive Candidiasis Discharge [I Can Discharge] Model, a mixed methods analysis. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis Accepted July 18, 2022
  2. McBride, S., Maker, E. V., Ross, A. M., Simmons, D., & Elkind, E. C. (2021). Determining awareness of the SAFER guides among nurse informaticists. Journal of Informatics Nursing, 6(4), 6 – 13.
  3. Brixey, Juliana Ph.D., MPH, R.N..; Salyer, Pamela Ph.D., RN-BC; Simmons, Debora Ph.D., R.N., CCNS, FAAN Nightingale power, Nursing Management (Springhouse): July 2020 - Volume 51 - Issue 7 - p 51-53 doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000669104.92938.0a
  4. Emily S. Patterson, PhD, Dawn, M., Sillars MPHNancy, Staggers, PhD, RNEsther, Chipps, PhD, RNLaurie, Rinehart-Thompson, JD, RHIAValerie, Moore, PhD, RNDebora, Simmons, PhD,R.N. ,Safe practice recommendations for the use of copy-forward with nursing flow sheets in hospital settings. Joint Commission Journal of Quality Patient Safety. 2017;43:375–385.
  5. Ramoni, Rachel B., DMD, ScD, Walji, Muhammad F., PhD; White, Joel, DDS, MS; Stewart, Denice, DDS, MHSA; Vaderhobli, Ram, DDS; Simmons, Debora, PhD, R.N., CCRN, CCNS, Kalenderian, Elsbeth, DDS, MPH, From good to better The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), 2012, Volume 143, Issue 9
  6. Simmons, D., Symes, L., Guenter, P, & Graves, K. (2011). Tubing misconnections: Normalization of deviance  Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 26(3), 286-293  do: 10 1177/0884533611406134
  7. Guenter, P, Hicks, R. & Simmons, D., (2009) Enteral Feeding Misconnections: An Update  Nutrition of Clinical Practice, 24(3)  32 -334
  8. Simmons, D. & Graves, K. (2008) Tubing Misconnections - A Systems Failure with Human Factors: Lessons for Nursing Practice  Urologic  Nursing  28 6):4 0-464. 
  9. Guenter, P., Simmons, D., Hicks, R., Crowley, J., Joseph, S., Croteau, R., Gosnell, C., Pratt, N., & Vanderveen, T. (2008) Enteral Feeding Misconnections: A Consortium Position Statement  Joint C mission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 34(5), 285-292.
  10. Simmons, D, Phillips, M, Grissinger, M. & Becker, S. (2008) Error-Avoidance Recommendations for Tubing Misconnections When Using Small-Bore Connectors: A Statement by the USP Safe Medication Use Expert Committee  Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety, 34(5).
  11. Beyea, S., Simmons, D., & Hicks, R. (2007)  Caution  Tubing misconnections can be deadly  AO N, 8 (3) 633-635.
  12. Simmons, D., & Sherwood, G. (2010) Neonatal intensive care unit and emergency department nurses' descriptions of working together: Building team relationships to improve safety  Critical  Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 22(2), 253-260  doi:10. 016/j.ccell.2010.03.007
  13. Simmons, D. (2010)  Safe process, safe practice, safe patients: The pivotal role of nurses in the safety of patients  Critical  Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 22(2), xiii-xiv  doi:10. 016/j.ccell.2010.04.001
  14. Simmons, D., Graves, K., and Mick, J. (2008) 20,000 Close Call Reports: Lessons from the University of Texas Close Call Reporting System. In Henriksen K., Battles J. B., Keyes M. A., Grady M. L., (eds). Advances in patient safety: New directions and alternative approaches  Vol. Assessment  AH Q Publication No. 08-0034-1  Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  15. Thomas, M., Simmons, D., Graves, K., & Martin, S. (June 2007) Practice Regulation Partnerships: The Pathway to Increase Safety in Nursing Practice, Healthcare Systems and Patient Care  Nurse Leader, 5(3), 50-54  doi:10. 016/j.mnl.2007.03.011
  16. Etchegaray, J, Thomas, E., Geraci, J., Simmons, D., Martin, S, Differentiating Close Calls from Errors: A Multidisciplinary Perspective Journal of Patient Safety, 1(.3)
  17. Martin, S.K., Etchegaray, J.M., Simmons, D., Belt, W. T., & Clark, K. (2005)  Adoption and implementation of The University of Texas Close Call Reporting System. Healthcare Research and Quality Patient Safety Compendium