SPRINGDALE, Arkansas — Federal officials have confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has executed a search warrant against Dr. Brian Hyatt, former chairman for the Arkansas State Medical Board, amid several civil lawsuits and a large-scale Medicaid fraud investigation.
Most of the allegations cover Dr. Hyatt's tenure as the head of the Northwest Medical behavioral unit in Springdale from January 2018 to May 2022.
Dr. Hyatt submitted a letter of resignation on May 16, 2023, stating that "I am not resigning because of any wrongdoing on my part but so that the board may continue its important work without delay or distraction. I will continue to defend myself in the proper forum against the false allegations being made against me."
In February, Dr. Hyatt's Medicaid services were suspended when the fraud allegations against him and his practice at the behavioral unit were deemed credible, according to the Office of Medicaid Inspector General.
The investigation uncovered that Hyatt had billed more Medicaid recipients using the highest code than any other doctor had billed for all of their patients in the state.
Officials noted that between Jan. 1, 2019, and May 2022, 99.95% of Dr. Hyatt's claims for Medicaid were billed under the highest code. Nationally, only about 21% of doctors' Medicaid billing was for the highest code.
In the federal investigation, there was evidence of Hyatt not even entering patients' rooms despite in-depth reports on their health to justify the Medicaid payments.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas confirmed the search warrant for Dr. Hyatt's psychiatry office in Rogers on Tuesday, May 23.
"In general, the execution of a search warrant is an important step in any lengthy, ongoing investigation. In light of the fact that this investigation is still ongoing, we can’t make any additional comments," the attorney's office told 5NEWS.
In May 2023, a $1.1 million settlement was reached with Northwest and the Arkansas Attorney General's office. The hospital terminated its contract with Hyatt in May 2022 after lawsuits were filed against him and the hospital.
Dr. Hyatt also is facing nearly a dozen lawsuits in civil court claiming false imprisonment and other accusations relating to allegedly keeping them in the behavior unit as long as possible in order to obtain more Medicaid funding.
One of the lawsuits filed against Dr. Hyatt and the hospital claimed that a woman had accidentally overdosed on Tylenol and was subsequently kept in the unit against her will.
The woman suing Dr. Hyatt said she'd expressed to employees that she wanted to leave but was told that if she tried to leave they would take her to court to get her to stay longer because "the judge always sided with Dr. Hyatt."
The lawsuit alleges that a judge had issued a court order to require Northwest Medical to release the woman.
Dr. Hyatt reportedly had gone to the woman's room that day and said "he and Northwest would see her lawyer in court and that when she lost in court she would never be able to get a job," the lawsuit alleges.
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