PPM’s expertise in defending exclusively anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims distinguishes us from all other medical malpractice carriers. Our unrivaled anesthesia-specific focus is driven by the unique composition of our Claims Department, comprised of Claims Attorneys and Claims Specialists with over 65 combined years of experience handling anesthesia claims. Since 1987, PPM policyholders have reported over 12,000 adverse outcomes, including a combination of more than 4,000 claims and lawsuits. At any given time, the Claims Department maintains an active caseload of nearly 400 files, the majority of which are in active litigation.
Our wealth of experience also promotes the aggressive defense of our insured anesthesia providers when claims or litigation arise. PPM has developed an enviable panel of local defense counsel across the 44 states where we offer coverage. As with our in-house Claims Attorneys, PPM’s retained local defense counsel are experts in medical malpractice defense and understand the complexities within the practice of anesthesia. Our Claims Department has also cultivated an extensive list of nationally recognized experts in all fields of medicine to assist with the defense of our policyholders. In addition, many cases are reviewed internally by PPM’s Medical Director, a board certified anesthesiologist. As a testament to our extensive knowledge base and meticulous review, PPM has secured defense verdicts in over 90% of those cases which proceed through trial. Regardless of the severity of any claim or lawsuit, PPM consistently places protecting the interests, reputations and livelihoods of our policyholders ahead of purely economically-based settlement evaluations. Importantly, for those cases where settlement may be contemplated, our policy first requires the consent of our policyholders.
The substantial volume of incidents reported to PPM over our 27-year history has shaped our ability to respond swiftly and effectively to the evolving needs of our anesthesia providers. Accordingly, PPM’s Claims Department provides an unparalleled understanding of anesthetic techniques, procedures and underlying loss trends. To support our policyholders, the Claims Department frequently assists with medical board complaints, contract review, indemnification agreements, informed consent review and other one-off special service projects. We are also available via phone for 24/7, real-time risk management advice on how to respond to adverse outcomes as they occur and mitigate future risk exposure. In addition, PPM offers an abundance of proactive risk management advice and literature aimed at improving patient safety and reducing future adverse outcomes. For example, since the program’s inception in 2002, PPM’s Claims Attorneys have conducted over 300 on-site risk management presentations for our policyholders. PPM’s Claims Department also produces our flagship risk management newsletter, Anesthesia & the Law, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary of publication.
Wade D. Willard, JD -- Vice President-Claims
Mr. Willard joined Preferred Physicians Medical in 1997 and was promoted to Senior Claims Attorney in 2000. In 2008 Mr. Willard assumed responsibility of the Claims Department as the Claims Department Supervisor and was promoted to Vice President-Claims in 2010. Mr. Willard oversees the Claims Department attorneys and staff who manage approximately three hundred-eighty litigation files in over thirty states. In addition to managing the customary operations of the Claims Department, Mr. Willard regularly speaks at national and regional society meetings and conducts on-site risk management seminars.
Mr. Willard is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law. Prior to joining Preferred Physicians Medical in 1997, he clerked for the Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Company.
Brian J. Thomas, JD -- Vice President-Risk Management
Mr. Thomas joined PPM in 1999 and was promoted to Senior Claims Attorney in 2001. In January 2008, Mr. Thomas assumed additional responsibilities as Director of Risk Management and was promoted to Vice President-Risk Management in October 2015. With over twenty-two years of insurance industry experience, Mr. Thomas has focused the past sixteen years exclusively on providing risk management services to anesthesia providers and defending high severity medical negligence litigation. Mr. Thomas is also Editor of PPM’s risk management newsletter, Anesthesia & the Law. Mr. Thomas has published on risk management issues in several prominent national and state anesthesia journals such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists Newsletter, Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation Newsletter, Communique and Scope. Mr. Thomas is responsible for developing and implementing enhanced anesthesia-specific risk management materials and managing PPM’s risk management program. Mr. Thomas also conducts a significant number of the Company’s on-site risk management seminars and frequently lectures on anesthesia risk management topics at medical society meetings and defense counsel seminars. In addition to his duties as Vice President-Risk Management, Mr. Thomas manages and oversees high severity litigation files in over twenty states. In this role, Mr. Thomas manages and supervises local defense counsel, day-to-day file activities, trials, mediations, settlement conferences and all stages of litigation. Additionally, Mr. Thomas frequently reviews various legal issues and provides guidance and advice to the Company and PPM’s policyholders on legal-insurance related matters.
Mr. Thomas is a 1995 graduate of Washburn University School of Law. Before joining PPM, he served as in-house counsel to several national insurance companies where his duties included the management and supervision of claims and litigation.
Tracey Dujakovich, JD -- Senior Claims Attorney
Ms. Dujakovich joined Preferred Physicians Medical in the spring of 2010. Ms. Dujakovich is responsible for handling a wide range of cases in the eastern United States with a concentration in New Jersey and New York. As a Senior Claims Attorney, she is responsible for the overall strategy and day-to-day management of files, including directing settlement discussions and attending trials. Ms. Dujakovich is also active in PPM’s risk management efforts conducting on-site risk management seminars. Prior to joining PPM, Ms. Dujakovich managed multi-specialty claims for five years with the Illinois State Medical Insurance Exchange. Ms. Dujakovich also worked in private practice for five years defending general liability and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Tracey is a 1991 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Shelley Strome -- Senior Claims Specialist
Ms. Strome joined Preferred Physicians Medical in June 2000 after handling medical negligence claims for eight years with the Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Company. In addition, Ms. Strome previously worked as a legal assistant with the Kansas Healthcare Stabilization Fund, the State’s excess insurance provider. Ms. Strome is a graduate of Washburn University where she received a degree in public administration in 1994 and her legal assistant degree in 1989.
Danon Williamson, JD -- Claims Attorney
Mr. Williamson joined PPM in October 2016. Mr. Williamson is responsible for the management of day-to-day file activities, evaluation of defense strategy, supervision of local defense counsel and directing settlement negotiations. Mr. Williamson is also responsible for providing risk management and advice to PPM’s insureds.
Mr. Williamson is a 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law. While at UMKC, he was Vice President of the Health Law Society and Program Editor of the Law Review. Prior to joining PPM, Mr. Williamson was an Analyst in the Compliance Department of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.