Utah chiropractor accused of bilking elderly loses license
Not only has chiropractor Brandon Babcock been allegedly bilking the elderly of money with his scheme to reverse their diabetes, he has endangered their health, according to state licensing officials.
Saying he poses "an immediate and significant danger" to the public, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing issued an emergency order Wednesday afternoon suspending his chiropractic physician license.
He was ordered to immediately stop seeing patients until DOPL holds a formal hearing to consider whether to suspend, revoke or reinstate his license. Babcock, 37, has 20 days to appeal. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Babcock, according to the 13-page order, "has repeatedly taken advantage of elderly patients by promising to reverse their diabetes and scaring them into accepting the diabetes treatment by telling them that they could die, they could have their legs cut off, and they could go blind."
It also says the chiropractor has built a program that "tends to cheat, exploit and endanger both the physical and fiscal health of elderly patients who are already suffering from type II diabetes."
The move comes a little more than a week after the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office charged Babcock with 10 counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of communications fraud, all felonies. Citing those charges, West Jordan also revoked his business license.
Babcock was operating under the clinic name The Integrated Health Center of Utah. In his television and newspaper advertisements, Babcock also referred to his business as the "Functional Endocrinology Institute of Utah."
Babcock claims to be able to "reverse" Type II diabetes with his "hidden secrets" supplements and a diet. Targeting elderly patients, he offered free dinner or lunch seminars and "free consultations," and said clients could "opt out" of his program within 30 days.
Instead, Babcock allegedly applied for loans in the victims' names through JPMorgan Chase Health Advance or GE Capital Retail Bank's CareCredit. Some victims said they didn't know they were signing up for the accounts. Others said they tried to opt out but Babcock refused and required them to pay him $500 for "exit interviews," other office visits or for supplements used.
The crimes are prosecuted as elder abuse because adults ages 65 and older are considered vulnerable. The 11 victims range in age from 61 to 83.
The Salt Lake Tribune stopped running Babcock's ads when the charges were filed.
At an emergency hearing Wednesday, a three-member committee took evidence from six alleged victims, at least one of whom was also named as a victim in the criminal charges. The order says DOPL has received more than 50 complaints about him since the beginning of the month.
While the criminal case focused on Babcock's financial dealings, the decision to revoke his license centered on the care he gave patients. DOPL said Babcock told patients to stop taking their medications which he cannot do as a chiropractor without consulting their medical doctors. He has previously denied doing so, telling The Tribune he gives his patients information about their health and they decide whether to use medications.
He also allegedly diagnosed a patient with a thyroid disorder without performing medical tests except for questionable saliva and stool tests. At least two of the alleged victims thought Babcock was a medical doctor.
Babcock allegedly told one 65-year-old, who had undergone open-heart surgery, that he could get the man off his heart medication. After the man followed Babcock's advice to stop taking his diabetes and cholesterol medications, his medical doctors found that his health was dangerously deteriorating.
Babcock allegedly told the man, "Not to worry. Your body is just going through a change."
Terry Lange was called as a witness against Babcock at Wednesday's hearing. He said he believes Babcock could have harmed his health had the 72-year-old followed the program.
"I don't want him practicing medicine," Lange said from his wheelchair on Wednesday before he went into the hearing. "I think he could be dangerous."
Lange has Parkinson's disease. Babcock told Lange in March he had never treated anyone with the brain disorder but said Lange could be his patient, according to Lange's daughter, Amy Nobias.Â
Nobias called a pharmacist about the supplements and was warned that her father shouldn't take them.Â
"The pharmacist said no, you can't take any supplements with Parkinson's. It's dangerous. They have a lot of adverse effects," Nobias recalled.
Her father also realized he couldn't follow the strict diet a three-week gluten- and dairy-free selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts and a supplement shake because he lives at an assisted-living facility.
But when Nobias, who has Lange's power of attorney, called within days to cancel the contract, the office wouldn't let her, she said. Babcock had applied and received $6,000 in Lange's name through Chase Health Advance on the day the man went in for a "free consultation."
Fearing Chase would send them to a collections agency, they paid the first installment of $250. Nobias said she tried to dispute the charges with Chase, but was told the company lost her letter.
In an email to the Tribune, Chase Card's public affairs director Steve O'Halloran, said, "Customers who did not receive treatment that they paid for will receive refunds."
He said "most customers" who used some of Babcock's services would get refunds for the portion they didn't use. "Each case will be handled individually."
He also said patients who received loans without their consent won't owe any money. He didn't comment on how long ago Chase received first complaints about Babcock. The criminal charging documents show DOPL first received accusations about his financial dealings in 2010.
Another alleged victim is struggling to resolve her bill through Chase. Sylvia Ferguson has an outstanding $500 bill for two office visits with Babcock last summer, even though she ended her involvement in the program within the 30 days, and she says neither Babcock nor his staff explained what she was supposed to do. She tried to dispute the charges, but Chase denied it, she said.
"I don't know what I'm paying for," said the 83-year-old who lives in a senior housing apartment in West Valley City.
Diabetic for 14 years, Ferguson stopped taking her insulin after meeting with Babcock once because she assumed she was supposed to. Even though she thought Babcock's heavy-handed sales pitch was unprofessional for a doctor "He wasn't taking no for an answer," she said she signed on because she wanted to believe his program would work.
She needs insulin three times a day. "You just get tired of it. It's a big nuisance."
In March, The Salt Lake Tribune published a profile of Utah chiropractor Brandon Babcock and his program.
Babcock's licensing woes began in 2008
R Chiropractor Brandon Babcock's program is based on a model developed by his former classmate Brandon Credeur. Credeur is charged by the Colorado Board of Chiropractic Examiners with 25 counts of violating various rules and laws, including unethical advertising, substandard care and practicing medicine for which he is not licensed.
In 2008, Utah licensing officials ordered Babcock to stop claiming in advertisements that his "Babcock Wellness and Pediatrics" clinic could treat depression and emotional problems, as well as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, because he was not qualified to treat those conditions.