WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Northwest Arkansas doctor embroiled in an assortment of legal cases was named as a defendant in another lawsuit.
Dr. Brian T. Hyatt of Rogers was informed on February 24 that his Medicaid billing privileges were suspended following allegations of fraud. His attorney, Gabriel D. Mallard, wrote a letter to the Arkansas Department of Human Services on March 1 on behalf of his client, stating that the doctor and his practice, Pinnacle Premiere Psychiatry (PPP), “vigorously contest that any credible allegation of fraud exists.”
Hyatt was also named as a defendant in a pair of lawsuits filed by former patients accusing him of false imprisonment, battery, assault and other acts last year. On March 24, a third, similar lawsuit was brought forward in Washington County circuit court.
William Vanwhy’s suit named Hyatt, Hyatt’s practice, Northwest Medical, Community Health Systems and 25 unidentified health employees, based on their efforts to “prey on, coerce, abuse, and unlawfully hold patients within the Northwest Medical Center – Springdale Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit in order to fraudulently bill their private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or other applicable insurance coverage for alleged care and treatment that was not provided.”
“The Defendants would coerce, threaten, lie to, chemically restrain, physically restrain, assault, batter, and otherwise punish or manipulate patients into ceasing all efforts to leave the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit or otherwise resisting or questioning the Defendants’ conduct and scheme.”
William Vanwhy v. Brian T. Hyatt et al, March 24 complaint
The filing stated that Vanwhy was voluntarily admitted on March 24, 2022 after suffering from “a bout of depression and suicidal thoughts.” According to court documents, he remained there until March 29, 2022, when the Washington County Sheriff executed a court order forcing the defendants to release him from the unit.
Vanwhy’s complaint stated that he never had his rights as a patient explained to him, nor was he told during admission that he was switched to a 72-hour involuntary hold. Vanwhy said he was also never informed that the unit had no right to hold him beyond that 72-hour period.
He added that he did not receive any care or treatment during his five days there aside from a five-minute non-confidential evaluation each morning by a provider that was not a doctor. The plaintiff said he was not seen or evaluated by Hyatt or any other doctor during his admission to the unit.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants were “fraudulently billing plaintiff for the highest and most intensive levels of treatment and other services across all five days of his admission.”
Despite not being seen by a doctor, the unit began providing Vanwhy with medications that he said were not consistent with those prescribed by his treating psychiatrist, but instead contradicted that doctor’s orders. The suit stated that neither Hyatt nor hospital staff made any effort to contact the plaintiff’s psychiatrist.
The plaintiff said that his repeated requests to leave the facility were ignored. Vanwhy’s husband contacted Springdale police on March 28, 2022, for help in getting him released. An officer said that the unit was “widely known for not being patient-focused and following their own protocol.”
Vanwhy also detailed being shouted and cursed at by an orderly as he prepared to leave with the assistance of a Washington County deputy. He was also threatened after refusing to sign unidentified paperwork, with the orderly saying that he would be billed entirely out-of-pocket if he did not sign.
The plaintiff was also shouted at to strip out of scrubs because they were “hospital property.” Vanwhy was left standing naked while the orderly retrieved his clothes and other belongings.
The lawsuit alleges false imprisonment, assault, battery, fraud and deceit, medical malpractice, institutional negligence, outrage and civil conspiracy, and Vanwhy is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The filing demanded a jury trial.