A number one Arkansas psychiatrist is being investigated for falsely holding doubtlessly lots of of individuals in a large Medicaid rip-off — with video footage displaying him touring hospital hallways with out spending any time with sufferers.
Dr. Brian Hyatt, 50, is beneath investigation by state and federal authorities — and going through lawsuits from no less than 26 sufferers who say they had been saved in opposition to their will, generally for weeks, in keeping with NBC News.
Some sufferers even bought courtroom orders to be freed by sheriff’s deputies, with one caught on an officer’s bodycam telling him: “Oh my gosh. You saved my life.”
“It was as if I used to be in a jail,” mother of three Shannon Williams, 52, informed NBC News of being held for 5 days whereas denying she was suicidal and begging for launch.
“All I noticed of Dr. Hyatt was the again of his head within the hallway. I by no means even noticed his face,” mentioned Williams, who’s herself a nurse.
“It was like a nightmare. If I cried, then I used to be once more threatened with extra time,” she mentioned. “I used to be terrified.”
Hyatt give up as chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board in late May after Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) brokers executed a search warrant at his personal follow, the report mentioned.
He was additionally “abruptly terminated” from Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, the place he’d been the medical director of the behavioral well being unit since January 2018, tripling the variety of beds to 75.
The hospital agreed in April to pay $1.1 million in a settlement with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office for failing to supply enough documentation justifying the hospitalization of 246 sufferers.
AG Tim Griffin’s workplace has accused Hyatt of working an insurance coverage rip-off, claiming to deal with sufferers he hardly ever noticed after which billing Medicaid at “the very best severity code on each affected person.”
According to 1 search warrant affidavit, Medicaid paid out greater than $800,000 to Hyatt’s facility from January 2019 to June 2022, dwarfing these of different Arkansas psychiatrists.
“Dr. Hyatt is a transparent outlier, and his claims are so excessive they skew the averages on sure codes for all the Medicaid program in Arkansas,” the affidavit says, in keeping with NBC.
Investigators reviewed 45 days of surveillance footage from the hospital — throughout which Hyatt interacted with a affected person solely 17 instances, for a complete of lower than 10 minutes, in keeping with a report by the AG.
Charlie Robbins, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas, mentioned the execution of its personal search warrant was “an necessary step in any prolonged, ongoing investigation.”
At least 26 individuals are suing him, alleging that they had been held in opposition to their will in his unit for days and generally weeks, with a lawyer within the case saying he expects extra to return ahead.
“I believe that they had been working a scheme to carry individuals so long as attainable, to invoice their insurance coverage so long as attainable earlier than kicking them out the door, after which filling the mattress with another person,” legal professional Aaron Cash informed NBC News.
Hyatt has not been charged and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
When he give up as chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board, he mentioned he was “not resigning due to any wrongdoing on my half however in order that the Board could proceed its necessary work immediately or distraction.”
“I’ll proceed to defend myself within the correct discussion board in opposition to the false allegations being made in opposition to me,” he mentioned on the time.
His authorized workforce additionally informed Arkansas Business final month that “Dr. Hyatt continues to keep up his innocence and denies the allegations made in opposition to him.”
“Despite his profession as an excellent clinician, Dr. Hyatt has grow to be the goal of a vicious, orchestrated assault on his character and repair,” his attorneys mentioned. “He seems to be ahead to defending himself in courtroom,” they mentioned, predicting expenses.
Hyatt’s authorized workforce maintained that he “didn’t mistreat sufferers” and “adopted the rules” of Medicaid billing “as he understands them.”
“Medicaid billing is an advanced, and never all the time persistently administered, system that doesn’t make it straightforward for suppliers,” they mentioned.
Northwest Medical Center additionally denied any wrongdoing in its $1.1 million settlement with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
“We consider hospital personnel complied in all respects with Arkansas regulation, which closely depends on the treating doctor’s evaluation of the affected person, together with in selections associated to involuntary dedication,” mentioned the hospital’s spokesperson, Aimee Morrell.
The hospital has, nevertheless, taken “numerous actions to make sure our sufferers’ security, together with hiring new suppliers liable for the scientific care of our behavioral well being sufferers,” she mentioned.