Denise O'Brien

Adjunct Clinical Instructor
Perianesthesia Clinical Nurse Specialist, Department of the Operating Rooms/PACU

University of Michigan Health System
1500 East Medical Center Dr.
Room UH1C 318B
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5044

Telephone: (734) 615-8246
Fax: (734) 936-8193


  • Perianesthesia nursing
  • Patient education
  • Pressure ulcer risk assessment and interventions in the perioperative setting
  • Perianesthesia nursing data elements use in the electronic health record
  • Symptom management in patients undergoing operative procedures

Dr. O’Brien’s experience encompasses staff and advanced practice roles in the specialty of perianesthesia nursing, including patient and staff education and clinical care. Dr. O’Brien has published extensively and presented internationally on clinical topics relevant to ambulatory surgery and perianesthesia care, patient education, standards, leadership, and information technology. She led a national initiative for the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses to develop perianesthesia data elements to define care and is active nationally and internationally to advance perianesthesia nursing practice. Identifying outcome indicators and the influence of nursing care on patient outcomes is a current research interest.  Following the completion of a doctorate in nursing practice in 2012, she continues to work as a clinical nurse specialist interested in promoting safety and quality for patients receiving care in the perianesthesia setting.

Affiliations / Service

  • Member, American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, 1980-present (service on multiple committees and strategic work teams)
  • Editor, Journal of Post Anesthesia Nursing, 1988-1993
  • President, American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, 1994-1995
  • Interim Editor, Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 1999-2000
  • Associate Editor, with Burden, N., Quinn, D., & Dawes, B.G. Ambulatory Surgical Nursing, 2nd Edition, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, PA, 2000
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 1994-1999, 2001-present
  • Co-Chair, UMHS Research & Translation Committee, 2013

Notable Awards / Honors

  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing, 2004
  • Recipient, Michigan Nurses Association Excellence in Nursing Practice Award (APN), 2006
  • Recipient, Kappa Iota Chapter – Madonna University, Outstanding DNP Student Award, 2012
  • Recipient, Alumni Professional Achievement Award, Madonna University, 2012


  • DNP, Madonna University, Livonia, MI 2012
  • MSN, Madonna University, Livonia, MI 2003
  • BSN, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1975

Publication Highlights

  • O’Brien, D.D., Shanks, A.M., Talsma, A., Brenner, P.S., & Ramachandran, S.K. (in press). Intraoperative risk factors associated with postoperative pressure ulcers in critically ill patients: A retrospective observational study. Critical Care Medicine.

  • Havey, R., Herriman, E., O’Brien, D. (2013). Guarding the gut: Early mobility after abdominal surgery. [Review]. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, 36, (1), 63-72.

  • Dirkes, S., Dickinson, S., Havey, R., & O'Brien, D. (2012). Prone positioning: Is it safe and effective? [Meta-Analysis Review]. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, 35, (1), 64-75. doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0b013e31823b20c6

  • Tallman, K., Ramachandran, S.K., Christensen, R., & O’Brien, D. (2011). Cardiac arrest in the PACU: An analysis of evolving challenges for perianesthesia nursing. [Review]. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 26, (1), 4-8. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.jopan.2010.10.002

  • O'Brien, D., Greenfield, M. L. V. H., Anderson, J., Smith, B., & Morris, M. (2010). [Clinical Trial]. Comfort, satisfaction, and anxiolysis in surgical patients using a patient-adjustable comfort warming system: A prospective randomized clinical trial. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 25, (2), 88-93.

  • Ramachandran, S., O'Brien, D. (2010). Counterpoint: Residual neuromuscular blockade in the PACU--a continuing serious problem. [Opinion]. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 25, (2), 121-123.

  • O'Brien, D., Wagner, D. (2009). PONV management: Strategies that work. [Review]. OR Nurse, 3, (6), 41-50.

  • Hooper, V.D., Chard, R., Clifford, T., Fetzer, S., Fossum, S., Godden, B., Martinez, E.A., Noble, K.A., O'Brien, D., Odom-Forren, J., Peterson, C., Ross. J. (2009). ASPAN's evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the promotion of perioperative normothermia. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 24, (5), 271-287.

  • Couture, D.J., Maye, J.P., O’Brien, D., Beldia Smith, A. (2006). Therapeutic modalities for the prophylactic management of postoperative nausea and vomiting. [Review]. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 21, (6), 398-403, 2006 December.

  • Mamaril, M.E., Ross, J.M., Krenzischek, D., O’Brien, D., Wilson, L., Clark, M., Clifford, T., Hooper, V. (2006). The ASPAN’s EBP conceptual model: Framework for perianesthesia practice and research. [Review]. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 21, (3), 157-167.

  • O’Brien, D., Palazzolo, W.C. (2006). Patient preparation and education: Bariatric surgery. [Review]. Perioperative Nursing Clinics, 1, (1), 47-53.

  • Golembiewski, J.A., O'Brien, D. (2002). A systematic approach to the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting. [Review]. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing. 17, (6), 364-76.