Beverly Yardley had lost her job."I was unemployed, didn't have insurance and I knew I was having some kind of problem up in my neck," Yardley said.She knew by the size of a lump on her neck she needed help her primary care doctor could not provide. But without insurance, she was not sure how she would get it.Then, she saw an advertisement on television for the Functional Endocrinology Center of Colorado."I thought, 'This is awesome!' I mean here's somebody who can help me and start me with a free consultation. That's what drew me in," she said.Yardley also told Call7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta the claims made by doctors Brandon and Heather Credeur in their television ads on every station in town, including KMGH, also attracted her.At the end of those advertisements, there is a special offer, a limited number of free consultations.Beverly booked one of those free spots immediately.It turned out to be a group presentation at the Credeurs' Denver office."At the end, I waited until a few other people filtered out and I wanted to make sure I caught Dr. Credeur before he left. I tried to specifically ask him what would be causing this lump in my neck and he just said, 'Well it's some kind of thyroid disorder probably,' and 'We'll get you on a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle,'" Yardley said.While Yardley pondered what to do, she said her primary care doctor was able to get her in to see physicians at Denver Health Medical Center and University of Colorado Hospital.Just days after meeting Credeur, she said she received a shocking diagnosis."They said, 'You have malignant cancer.' I mean just slam bam, they knew it right off the bat," Yardley said.Her diagnosis, she said, was Stage 2, B-cell lymphoma.Yardley said she was admitted to the hospital immediately.When she saw the ad still running on television, Yardley contacted the CALL7 Investigators."Did you know Dr. Credeur was a chiropractor?" asked Marchetta."No. I guess he's an endocrinologist, but he's got chiropractors in his office," said Yardley."No, he is not an endocrinologist," said Marchetta."Oh really? I didn't know that! OK," Yardley said with a nervous laugh."So you're hearing that for the first time from me?" asked Marchetta."Yes," Yardley replied.
'Chiropractor' Absent In Advertising
The "D.C." that appears after the Credeurs' names in most of their current ads stands for Doctor of Chiropractic.The CALL7 Investigators checked every ad they could find and nowhere did they see or hear the word "chiropractor."Yardley is not the only one who contacted the CALL7 Investigators.Jackie Foster said she only signed up because she was told at Credeur's office her insurance would pay for most of it.Months later when she received the bills from her insurance company, she saw her visits were not covered."My cholesterol had gone up. My TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level had gone up," said Foster.Foster told Marchetta her program consisted of a diet outlined in a book given to all patients, supplements and creams she bought at the office, and some chiropractic adjustments, all things many chiropractors are licensed to do."I called him on the phone, 'My condition is worse!' 'Well we can't guarantee anything,' (Credeur said). That's part of their deal, they don't guarantee you'll get better," said Foster."Wow, we were totally duped by that commercial," said Gayla Raaflaub.A long-time thyroid patient, Raaflaub said she walked out during Credeur's free consultation when she got a close look at his business card."We had driven down from Glenwood under the guise that this was an endocrinology clinic and that we were seeing someone who was schooled in thyroid disease," Raaflaub said, "All I kept thinking, they are making totally false claims."
Credeur Answers Questions
Marchetta talked with Credeur at his Denver office."Are you an endocrinologist?" Marchetta asked."Nope and I don't claim to be. If people told you I hold myself out to be an endocrinologist that would be incorrect," said Credeur.He said he does not remember Yardley and can not understand how anyone is confused about his or his wife's qualifications."Do you consider yourself a physician?" Marchetta asked."No, not really, I'm just a health care provider," Credeur said."You're not a physician?" Marchetta asked."No," Credeur said.According to the Secretary of State's website, Credeur has changed the name of his business at least six times in just the past three years, adding to the possible confusion.He has, over that time period, added the words "endocrinology," "diabetic" and "thyroid" to various incarnations of his business' name."The fact they don't state they're chiropractors right at the beginning, they know they are deceiving the public," said Raaflaub.The CALL7 Investigators sent producers to the Credeur's free sessions, undercover, to hear first hand what they tell prospective patients.In one of those sessions, Heather Credeur told our producers the thyroid replacement they take can cause diabetes."Synthroid actually promotes diabetes, which is not good," Heather Credeur said.The Credeurs also tell patients they could develop Multiple Sclerosis."What's the cause of MS?" asked Marchetta."No one knows," said Credeur."So if no one knows how can you tell someone they can develop it?" asked Marchetta."By reading the literature, ya," said Credeur."What studies are you citing exactly?" Marchetta asked."I don't have those for you, but I can easily get those," said Credeur.CALL7 never received any studies to support Credeur's claims.
Thyroid Expert Responds
"Does hypothyroid lead to MS?" Marchetta asked Dr. Bryan Haugen."No, not at all," said Haugen, "There's not evidence it's associated with or leads to MS."Haugen is a professor of medicine and heads the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Colorado. He is also a leading researcher in endocrine neoplasms and a nationally respected thyroid expert who has developed ground-breaking thyroid cancer treatments and co-authored national protocols for the treatment of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer."Synthroid promotes diabetes?" Marchetta asked."There's absolutely no evidence that any thyroid hormone promotes diabetes at all," said Haugen.Marchetta showed Haugen the Credeur's ads and claims."Is that an outright lie?" Marchetta asked Haugen regarding the Credeurs' statement that synthroid promotes diabetes."It's completely inaccurate," said Haugen."Misleading patients?" Marchetta asked."Yes, that is misleading," Haugen said.He was both appalled and concerned a chiropractor using supplements would be attempting to treat serious, highly specialized medical conditions."Some of these can have definite harm. We've seen this in the past. There could be harm done by giving various preparations that aren't under the same guidelines as medications are," Haugen said, adding that many supplements can often decrease the absorbtion of thyroid hormone, worsening the patient's symptoms."In chiropracting there is no endocrinology training. That takes many years of internal medicine training and then many years of endocrinology training. So, to call it a 'Functional Endocrinology Center' is also misleading," Haugen said.Credeur said he has taken courses and attended seminars to receive training in the field of functional medicine, an alternative approach to treating disease."There is an emerging science that is called Functional Endocrinology, that is taught in weekend seminars and things of that nature," Credeur explained to Marchetta."What could the potential harm be to someone who goes into this clinic and is getting this kind of information or advice?" Marchetta asked Haugen."I could see the harm based on a number of levels. Obviously the first one is financial harm," said Haugen.
Credeur's Cash-Only Fees
Heather Credeur quoted the price to our Call7 Producers, $8,600 for six months.The program is costly and patients must pay cash up front before their first treatment."We're talking thousands of dollars here. Four, five, six, seven, $8,000?" Marchetta asked."Sometimes more," Credeur said, "Cash, credit card, check. Most of our patients do health care financing."That financing is arranged in Credeur's office.Patients told Marchetta the offer does not include required dietary supplements the Cedeurs conveniently sell in their office, for a profit."Do you make money off those?" Marchetta asked."Yes," Credeur said."Don't you thinks it's a little unethical to sell something you have a vested interest in?" Marchetta asked."No, not at all," Credeur said.
Medical Ethics Professor Weighs-In
Marchetta asked University of Colorado Medical Ethics professor Dr. Mark Earnest about the practice."If you're recommending a course of treatment and you profit by selling them something I think your judgment is definitely affected by that," he said.It is one of several elements of the Credeur's practice Earnest finds problematic."If you're selling snake oil, you want to get as much money as you can up front because a couple of months from now, you're not going to have much to stand on," said Earnest."We work within the scope of our practice," Credeur said, "I mean we do live in a country that is a capitalistic country," Credeur said.
The Credeurs' Side Business
Credeur is proud of his money-making business model."We are finally in the sweet spot for what our business and passion is," he told Marchetta.He believes in that business model so strongly, he owns a side business called HelpMorePatients.com selling marketing techniques to other chiropractors."We don't even blink and make $450K a month," Credeur said to participants of a webinar.The headline for Credeurs web ad reads, "Discover How to Attract More Sick Patients With Real Organic & Visceral Illnesses."He said it is aimed at other chiropractors, not patients."What does 'Sick' Patients mean, in quotes," Marchetta asked."That they have disease process," Credeur said."I know what sick means," said Marchetta, "But why put in quotes? You're saying, 'discover how to attract sick patients.' You're not saying 'how to help sick patients.'""Because the advertising is for the doctor not for the patient," said Credeur. "I frankly find this disturbing," said Earnest."How do you tap into markets and legally utilize them," said Earnest reading the HelpMorePatients.com advertisement."The idea of preying on that is particularly loathsome," Earnest said."We have nothing to hide," said Credeur, "We don't do any guarantee of services, we try to spell everything out for our patients and still some people are going to be dissatisfied. That's just life."
Credeur Under Investigation
Despite his confidence, Credeur is at the center of controversy.He is being sued by a former patient for deceptive marketing, quality of care and other violations of the Consumer Protection Act.He admitted to Marchetta, he is the subject of investigations by the Department of Regulatory Agencies."There are not only these investigations from '08 and '09, but current investigations going on?" Marchetta asked."Right, those are private matters with the board. Those are not public record," Credeur said."But they are under way?" said Marchetta."Yes," said Credeur."These are concerns you've been hearing for several years now," said Marchetta."It's unfortunate," said Credeur."Isn't it more than unfortunate? You're being investigated and you're being sued. You're not concerned?" Marchetta asked."No. I'm not concerned at all," said Credeur.But Yardley said she is concerned that someone else could be misled."I'm just trying to save somebody else from going through some situation, getting really sick or a more serious situation," said Yardley.Marchetta asked the Colorado Chiropractic Association to comment on Credeur's business practices.They sent this statement:"As the state professional association, the Colorado Chiropractic Association stands for ethical practices that adhere to the laws governing doctors of chiropractic licensed in Colorado. We support all statutes, rules, policies and regulations. These laws clearly define the marketing, advertising, and scope of practice requirements for all Colorado doctors of chiropractic."