Hospital personnel at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas took so long to call the exterminators for an ant infestation in December that ants were found crawling on comatose and dying patients in their beds and covering the body of at least one paraplegic, reports the Fort Worth Weekly. Last month, a woman with heart trouble collapsed and died after complaining repeatedly that her pacemaker was not working properly, only to be sent back to her ward without treatment. When prison authorities were told ny one of their own doctors that a breast cancer patient whose left breast had been removed needed a CAT scan because of a probable recurrence of cancer, she was ordered instead to go for a mammogram on the breast that no longer exists. When she demanded the scan instead, she was cited for refusing medical care. Those charges and others were made recently by two inmate patients at Carswell.
With U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a retired Texas judge, a sitting federal judge, and others finally bringing official attention to bear, prison officials have responded – and their responses are filled with contradictions, errors, and statements that make it appear that they don't even know which civilian hospital they send their patients to. The prison bureau said that media questions for Dr. Newton Kendig, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons health director, had to be submitted as a request under the federal freedom of information law – a statute aimed at government records rather than interviews, and to which the bureau usually responds only after delays of six months or more.