Doctors ignored McDougal, reports says

By Jack Douglas Jr.
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- Hours before he died in a Fort Worth prison cell,
Whitewater witness James
McDougal complained of dizziness and became ill, but he was never seen
by a doctor, according to a
federal government report.

McDougal, a felon and one of the first to withdraw his allegiance from
his pal, President Clinton, was also
separated from his heart medication when he was placed in an isolated
cell, known as "The Hole," at the
Federal Medical Center prison in south Fort Worth.

Guards did not find the medicine because they did not want to search
McDougal's cell and disturb his
sleeping cellmate, the report says.

One of the medicines, nitroglycerin, could have bought McDougal some
time after he was stricken with a
heart attack on March 8, a prison official who did not want to be
identified, said yesterday.

Neither Warden George Killinger nor prison spokeswoman Susan Marlo could
be reached yesterday to
comment. Prison duty officer Arden Hanson said, "This isn't anything
that can be handled by me over the

McDougal became a key witness for Whitewater prosecutors when the
investigation centered on an
Arkansas land deal in which the two men were involved. Independent
counsel Kenneth Starr, in his report
released Friday, made no mention of wrongdoing by Clinton in the real
estate venture.

McDougal was convicted of unrelated federal fraud charges and was
serving out his term in Fort Worth
when he died of the heart attack.

The internal report, compiled by prison officials and obtained under the
Freedom of Information Act, said
McDougal's treatment behind bars was "consistent" with "reasonable
community standards of medical
care." But it also mentions what appear to be mistakes, or at least a
breakdown in communication.

At 9 p.m. on March 7, after five hours of trying to provide a urine
sample for guards, the perpetually
ailing McDougal said he was dizzy, the report says. Two physician
assistants at the prison were notified,
but both "reported they were treating other inmates at the time and were
scheduled to get off duty at 10
p.m.," the documents say.

The medical attendants asked a doctor at the prison to evaluate
McDougal. Instead, the doctor "told the
physician assistants that they should take care of inmate McDougal
before they left for the night," the
report says.

Neither the doctor nor the physician attendants saw McDougal, according
to the report. "There is no
indication of follow-up on this issue by any member of the Health
Services staff," the report says.

At 10:30 p.m. on March 7, McDougal "remained unable to provide a urine
sample" and said he would go
to "The Hole," according to the report. As a guard was taking him to
isolation, he "thought inmate
McDougal might be breathless and suggested they stop," the internal
documents say. After 15 seconds,
they continued.

But at 11:10 p.m., as McDougal was "being placed into the shower area
for in-processing, he vomited,"
the report says. After that, according to the report, McDougal told
guards, "I'm fine," and "voiced no
complaints regarding his health or medical state."

At 1:30 a.m. on March 8, McDougal said he thought he could finally
provide a urine sample, but a guard
told him that "it was too late," according to documents.

McDougal appeared "alert, well-oriented and absent any visible signs of
distress" until 10:55 a.m., when a
guard heard "a loud sighing from within the cell" and found him lying on
the floor, the report says.
McDougal was pronounced dead after being rushed to John Peter Smith

The internal report suggests that McDougal should never have been
disciplined in the first place.

After being punished once before for failing to comply with a drug test,
McDougal underwent an exam on
Sept. 2, 1997, "for the purpose of assessing a possible psychological
basis for his inability to provide a
urine sample," the report says. The exam concluded that McDougal was not
at fault, but simply too
embarrassed to undergo a urinalysis test in front of other people.

A memorandum was issued stating that McDougal, if ordered to undergo
another drug test, should simply
be placed alone in a cell and given time to provide a urine sample,
according to the report. But the memo
was "inadvertently placed" in a supervisor's file, where it was not
found until several days after McDougal
died, the documents says.

Once McDougal was taken from his regular cell, "there is no evidence
that inmate McDougal had access
to his self- administered medications," including pills for a bad heart,
high blood pressure and anxiety, the
report says.

The report noted that McDougal never asked for the medicine while he was
in isolation.


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