Purpose: Noticing that moderately to severely incompetent physicians (as measured by a standardized assessment of physician competence) did not improve after traditional remedial continuing medical education (CME), the authors investigated the effects of a polyvalent, intensive, prolonged educational intervention on five physicians' competence.
Method: The five physicians participated in a CME program that lasted three years and consisted of individualized review, ongoing small-group and evidence-based discussions, simulated patients and role playing, formal chart review, and peer review. At the end of the program, the physicians were reassessed.
Results: Only one physician improved; another remained the same, and three deteriorated.
Conclusion: Successful remediation of severely incompetent physicians is uncertain at best, even with prolonged, intensive CME that incorporates modalities thought to be effective in changing physicians' behaviors. Alternative educational techniques may need to be developed for this select population. Conversely, there may be reasons that preclude improvement even with optimal techniques.