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An inmate weeks away from being released on parole from the Utah State Prison has died and another remains hospitalized after a medical technician failed to show up for work, causing several inmates to miss their dialysis treatments.
Ramon C. Estrada, 62, died Sunday of apparent cardiac arrest due to renal failure, according to a statement by the Utah Department of Corrections. He was to be released on parole April 21 after nearly a decade in prison on a rape conviction.
Six other inmates also missed their on-site dialysis treatments and were taken to a hospital, according to the statement.
"The delayed response in ensuring that the inmates received needed medical care is unacceptable," the statement read.
Estrada was scheduled for kidney dialysis Friday, but a technician with South Valley Dialysis Center, the contracted treatment provider, did not arrive, wrote Brooke Adams, department spokeswoman.
The technician didn't show up Saturday either. Estrada died about 10:30 p.m. Sunday as medics were getting him ready to go to the hospital.
University of Utah Health Care, which operates the dialysis center, plans to "conduct a thorough review of the circumstances that led to this unacceptable mistake and will take whatever steps are necessary to improve communications procedures," according to a statement by spokeswoman Kathy Wilets.
The six other inmates who'd missed their treatments were taken to University Hospital for evaluation. Two were in good condition and sent back to prison; three others were admitted and returned to the prison on Monday. One remains in the hospital.
"The department's internal investigation will include a review of all aspects of the situation, including the response by its medical leadership and staff, actions of its contract provider and an analysis of what measures need to be taken to prevent this from happening again," Adams wrote.
The department's Clinical Services Bureau director has been put on leave.
While the investigation is underway, prison staff have created a dialysis schedule calendar and collected phone numbers of dialysis technicians, Adams wrote. Nurses are required to take post-treatment reports from those technicians and make better chart notes about the inmates' condition.
Staff also are required to make "timely notification" to the charge nurse if the schedule changes or a technician misses an appointment, Adams wrote.
Adams didn't know the condition of the inmate who remains hospitalized.