Top Arkansas Psychiatrist Faces Allegations of Holding Patients Hostage in Shocking Medicaid Scam
Dr. Brian Hyatt, a prominent Arkansas psychiatrist is currently under investigation by state and federal authorities for allegedly participating in a massive Medicaid scam that involved falsely holding patients against their will. Disturbing video footage has emerged showing him touring hospital hallways without spending substantial time with the patients, per the New York Post. As the investigation unfolds, at least 26 patients have come forward, claiming they were wrongfully detained for extended periods, with some seeking legal action against the psychiatrist.
The allegations and lawsuits
The accusations against Dr. Brian Hyatt are serious and numerous. Several patients asserted that they were held against their will, sometimes for weeks, despite denying any suicidal tendencies and pleading for their release, reports NBC. One patient, Shannon Williams likened the experience to being trapped in a prison. “All I saw of Dr. Hyatt was the back of his head in the hallway. I never even saw his face,” said Williams, a nurse herself, raising further concerns about the quality of care provided.
The magnitude of the scandal has led to a substantial number of lawsuits, with at least 26 patients already filing legal claims. Their attorneys anticipate more individuals to come forward with similar stories of false imprisonment and mistreatment. The seriousness of the accusations prompted the involvement of both state and federal authorities in the ongoing investigation.
The Medicaid scam
The Arkansas Attorney General's Office has accused Dr. Brian Hyatt of orchestrating an insurance scam centered around Medicaid billing. The scheme involved purportedly treating patients he rarely interacted with and then billing Medicaid at an excessively high severity code for each patient. This allowed him to receive substantial payouts from Medicaid, amounting to over $800,000 from January 2019 to June 2022. The inflated claims were so significant that they distorted the Medicaid program's average billing figures for Arkansas.
Investigators analyzed 45 days of surveillance footage from the hospital, revealing that Dr. Hyatt's interactions with patients were alarmingly minimal. In total, he interacted with patients only 17 times, for less than 10 minutes. This evidence bolstered the accusations against him, indicating that his focus seemed more on maximizing billing rather than providing adequate patient care.
Legal response and denials
As the investigation intensified, Dr. Brian Hyatt resigned as Chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board, emphasizing that his decision was not due to any wrongdoing on his part but to ensure the board could continue its work without distractions. His legal team has consistently denied the allegations, maintaining his innocence and claiming that he did not mistreat patients. They also asserted that he followed Medicaid billing guidelines as he understood them, hinting at the complexity and inconsistency of the system. Despite these claims, the weight of evidence and the growing number of patient testimonies are likely to shape the investigation's outcome.
Hospital's involvement and settlement
Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, where Dr. Hyatt served as the medical director of the behavioral health unit, faced consequences in connection to the allegations. The hospital reached a settlement of $1.1 million with the Arkansas Attorney General's Office for failing to provide sufficient documentation justifying the hospitalization of 246 patients. While the hospital denied any wrongdoing, they made efforts to enhance patient safety by hiring new providers responsible for the clinical care of behavioral health patients.
Other Medicaid scams
A widespread Arizona Medicaid scam left 5,000 to 8,000 Native Americans homeless on the streets of metro Phoenix in June 2023, and the Navajo Nation declared it a public health state of emergency, per Associated Press. Fake sober living homes lost their funding and former residents had nowhere to go. Such fraudulent homes have robbed Arizona out of hundreds of millions of its share of federal Medicaid dollars, per state officials.
To avoid Medicaid and Medicare scams and scam calls, one must be aware and equipped with the right information. Here is the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice on how to spot these scams and these are the types of Medicaid scams. Medicare scam calls are also on the rise and here's how you can avoid them.
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