Oregon Alphabiotics Practitioner Ordered to
Practicing without a License
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In 2010, the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners concluded that Chris McCutcheon had practiced chiropractic without a license and assessed a $10,000 administrative penalty. The board's order (shown below) noted that McCutcheon operated the Balanced Wellness Center in Klamath Fall Oregon, where he referred to himself as a doctor and practiced a variation of chiropractic called alphabiotics. Two patients who had believed McCutcheon was a chiropractor consulted him for treatment of neck pain and headaches. After McCutcheon has twisted their neck, they became dizzy and wound up with worsening of their initial symptoms. A board investigator posing as a patient experienced sharp pain McCutcheon twisted his neck. During the visit, McCutcheon said that Alphabiotics would "reboot your brain 25 and your system, to balance your body, to relax the tense side and strengthen the weak side." When the Board sent a cease and desist letter, McCutcheon replied that he had done hundreds of thousands of alphabiotic alignments but would stop and go to chiropractic school. However, the Board learned that although he closed his office, he continued to offer treatments at his home. The Board served a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action. McCutcheon requested a hearing but later withdrew his request. The Board subsequently concluded that he had engaged in unprofessional conduct that "exposed the citizens of Oregon to great harm."
In January 2013, McCutcheon began advertising his practice with the name "Balanced Health Wellness Center," called what he did "neurological balance technique," and structured his set-up as a "private membership association" that he claimed would enable him to provide treatment to "members" without regulation by the Board. However, in September 2013, a Circuit Court judge concluded that he was not exempt from regulation and ordered him to stop. A Board press release noted that McCutcheon's only apparent training had been a 100-hour course in alphabiotics.
BOARD OF CHIROPRACTIC EXAMINERS
STATE OF OREGON
In the Matter of
FINAL ORDER BY DEFAULT
Case # 2009-3017
The Board of Chiropractic Examiners (Board) is the state agency responsible for licensing, regulating and disciplining chiropractic physicians in the State of Oregon. Chris McCutcheon (Respondent) is not licensed by the Board to practice as a chiropractic physician in the State of Oregon.
Findings of Fact
In June of 2009, the Board received a complaint that Respondent was practicing chiropractic without a license based on information obtained from patients who had received treatment from him in the Klamath Falls, Oregon area.
On his website (www.balancedwellnesshealth.com). Respondent referred to himself as a "doctor" and advertised his practice as the Balanced Wellness Center. Respondent used almost exclusively the Alphabiotic Alignment/Chrane condyle lift in his practice. The New Life Center in Texas is the institution that specializes in teaching Alphabiotics.
The Board obtained literature from the State of Washington wherein that State Board concluded that Alphabiotics was a chiropractic variant in which the treatment is synonymous with and limited to cervical adjustment using a technique called the Chrane Condyle Lift. That conclusion was upheld by a ruling by the Washington State Court of Appeals entitled John Brown D.C. v. State of Washington Department of Health.
Investigation into the New Life Center and Alphabiotics International showed that it was not an accredited degree granting institution in Oregon and anyone practicing under their certification was in violation of ORS 348.609; a Class B misdemeanor and possible consumer fraud.
The Board investigation showed that Respondent was practicing for approximately 1 year and possibly several additional years while not licensed. Respondent was actively treating patients and using potentially risky chiropractic techniques without a chiropractic license. Other practitioners in the same location as respondent noticed several patients coming and going during the day and evening, sometimes as high as 20 patients..
Two of Respondent's former patients also believed that they were injured by his treatment and believed that he as a doctor and/or chiropractor when they received treatment. There was no indication that Respondent was keeping patient files on patients. These two patients of Respondents sought treatment from another health practitioner and had complained to that practitioner about receiving treatment from Respondent. Specifically, they complained about neck pain, headaches and dizziness. The health practitioner found indications of severe cervical strain/axial load injury from distraction and rotation of the neck. The health practitioner said that he had treated one patient for quite some time prior to Respondents treatment and in his medical opinion; her neck condition was much worse due to the adjustments provided by Respondent. Interviews with these patients supported those allegations of harm and described how Respondent put his hands on the side of their head, jerking it aggressively with both hands and arms and then doing it on the other side. During the adjustment the patients described it as very painful at the moment of adjustment with the treatment lasting only a couple of minutes. When the patients sat up they became dizzy and it continued to become more intense forming into a headache. Patients described the dizziness and headache lasting the entire day. One patient felt a burning sensation in her neck one day post treatment. When the patients asked what the pain was from, Respondent would tell them that toxins were in their bodies and this is the way they worked themselves out.
A Board investigator also received a cervical adjustment using the technique of Chrane Condyle Lift in June 2009. Respondent told him that the Alphabiotics would "reboot your brain and your system, to balance your body, to relax the tense side and strengthen the weak side." Respondent then turned the investigators head 30 degrees and wrapped his hands and arms around his head. Suddenly he gave a very sharp axial jerk, very abrupt and sharp. The investigator said "whoa" and quickly without pause Respondent turned his head the other way and did it again. The investigator felt momentary pain. Respondent then palpated the investigators neck and said "the tenderness feels better doesn't it?" Respondent took cash for the adjustment and did not have the investigator fill out any paperwork or take any form of a medical history of the patient. In addition, respondent did not have the investigator sign anything, inform him of any issues that might affect or be affected by the treatment, inform him of any risks associated, or discuss post treatment expectations with the investigator.
On July 2,2009, the Board served via certified mail, a cease and desist letter to Respondent requesting that he immediately cease this practice and informing him it was practicing chiropractic without a license. Almost a month later, on August 1, 2009, Respondent wrote to the Board indicating that he had performed hundreds of thousands of Alphabiotic Alignments and that he was stopping the Alphabiotic Alignment and would be going to Chiropractic School. Since that letter arrived, the Board has additional investigative information that although Respondent had closed his office where these treatments occurred, he was still offering these types of treatments out of his home.
Respondent is not a licensed Chiropractor in the State of Oregon. Respondent holds no other health regulatory licenses or certificates in the State of Oregon. Respondent is performing chiropractic techniques as described by ORS 684.010(2) and is performing techniques that are taught in chiropractic schools. Respondent is risking causing harm to the patients that he has provided this treatment to.
On September 24, 2009, a Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action was served on Respondent. On October 28,2009 he requested a hearing. A hearing was scheduled for June 15- 16,2010. On June 11,2010, Respondent withdrew his request for hearing in writing. Respondent is in default pursuant to ORS 183.417. In the Proposed Notice of Disciplinary Action the Board notified Respondent that the record in this matter would be used as the prima facie evidence in this matter.
Conclusions of Law
The Board finds that conduct described above is a violation of ORS 684.015(1)(1), 684.020(1), ORS 684.l00(1)(f) (A), (i) and (P), OAR 811-035-0015(6), (12), (14) and (22) that Respondent practiced chiropractic without a license and engaged in unprofessional conduct. The Board finds that the Respondent's conduct exposed the citizens of Oregon to great harm.
Due to the aforementioned viulations, the OBCE orders Respondent to pay a civil penalty in the sum of $10,000 to the Board. This is pursuant to their authority under ORS 684.100(9). Payment of the civil penalty is due within 30 days of this order becoming final.
IT IS SO ORDERED
DATED this 22nd day of June 2010
BOARD OF CHIROPRACTIC EXAMINERS
State of Oregon.
Dave McTeague, Executive Director
This page was posted on January 22, 2016.