BACKGROUND. In 1990 the Ambulatory Care Service of the Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, affiliated with the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine, developed written clinical protocols for the management of patients with certain high-risk medical conditions. METHOD. Appropriateness of care was assessed by determining physician compliance to the protocols over a 24-month period (October 1990-September 1992). All physicians who did not comply received individualized feedback from the service chief. For the first 12 months, both staff physicians and moonlighting second- and third-year medical residents were assessed (a total of seven staff physicians and 20 residents participated in the study). For the second 12 months, only the residents were assessed. RESULTS. The moonlighting residents were notably less consistent than the staff physicians in protocol compliance (95-100% for the staff physicians; 78-100% for the moonlighters). Additional interventions were then implemented to improve the moonlighters' utilization of the protocols. Moonlighters' compliance over the subsequent 12 months was less variable (mean compliance of 92%, SD, 3%, the first year versus 95%, SD, 8%, the second year). CONCLUSION. The strategy seemed to improve the supervision and performance of the moonlighting residents and promoted consistent delivery of high-quality outpatient care.
(C) 1995 Association of American Medical Colleges