Dr. Brian Hyatt, a well-known psychiatrist in Arkansas, is being looked into for allegedly falsely detaining hundreds of individuals in a Medicaid scam. At least 26 patients are suing him, claiming they were detained against their will for a period ranging from a few days to several weeks and that he toured the hospital halls without spending time with them.
Some patients even had court orders releasing them, and one was recorded on camera saying to a sheriff’s deputy that they single-handedly “averted certain death” for them.
After DEA officers raided his private clinic in late May, Hyatt resigned as head of the Arkansas State Medical Board. He was also “abruptly terminated” from his position as medical director of the behavioral health unit at Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, where he had worked since January 2018 and oversaw an increase from 20 to 75 available beds. In April, the hospital settled with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office for $1.1 million for failing to demonstrate the necessity of inpatient care for 246 patients adequately.
AG Hyatt has been charged by Tim Griffin’s office of orchestrating a Medicaid fraud scheme in which he falsely claimed to treat individuals he seldom met while billing Medicaid at “the highest severity code on every patient.” According to one search warrant document, from January 2019 through June 2022, Medicaid paid out more than $800,000 to Hyatt’s institution, far more than any other psychiatrist in Arkansas.
After reviewing 45 days’ worth of hospital surveillance film, the investigators found that Hyatt had only 17 interactions with patients for less than 10 minutes. According to a representative from the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas, carrying out a search warrant issued by their own office is “an important step in any lengthy, ongoing investigation.” A lawyer in the case said he expects more than the current 26 plaintiffs to file suit against him because they were detained against their will at his apartment for days or weeks.
Hyatt has denied any wrongdoing and has not been prosecuted.
His legal team insisted he did not abuse his patients and only “followed the guidelines” of Medicaid billing “as he understands them.”