A California physician was on probation with a requirement to undergo and pass the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education (P.A.C.E.) program at the University of California, San Diego. The P.A.C.E. evaluation was conducted in two parts. It included an oral clinical evaluation and a hands-on practice simulation, in addition to physical and psychological testing. The physician was subsequently informed of failure of the clinical portion of the examination. An order to cease practice followed. The Medical Board then filed an Accusation and Petition to Revoke Probation.
The physician requested our representation in order to seek to restore his probationary status and request authorization to retest with the P.A.C.E. program. The physician had mentioned suffering from severe sleep apnea and had experienced difficulty getting sufficient sleep for several years. We asked the physician to undergo psychological and neurological evaluations to determine whether the sleep issues had led to program failure. The results of the evaluations showed a life-threatening sleep apnea condition that resulted in cognition difficulties as well as physical issues, including extremely high blood pressure. Once the physician was placed in treatment for the apnea the negative symptoms abated. We presented clinical documentation of the physician's condition and its effect on performance at P.A.C.E. to the Medical Board and asked that probation be restored along with approval to retake the P.A.C.E. program or its equivalent. On December 21, 2015, the Medical Board approved a stipulation restoring the physician to active status on probation and granting authorization to retake P.A.C.E. or the equivalent, with a condition that the physician remain in treatment for the apnea condition.
This case demonstrates that even a failure to pass the P.A.C.E. program, resulting in an order for a physician to cease practice, can be remedied with the Medical Board if the proper evaluation is conducted and effective representation occurs.