Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) December 2, 2013 – A nursing home resident died after he caught fire while smoking a cigarette.
Michael Lewis, a resident of Lake Shore HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre, was smoking a cigarette on the patio when the lighter in his shirt pocket caught fire. His family said that the nursing home staff did not handle the situation properly. Footage from a security camera shows that Lewis pushed his wheelchair inside, where staff members sprayed Lewis with a fire extinguisher and then rolled him back outside, where he sat unattended for more than five minutes.
“It seems clear that the response to the emergency by the nursing home staff was lacking,” said Robert Briskman, a Chicago attorney who represents victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, but is not involved in this matter.
The footage shows other residents of the facility attempting to help Lewis before he went inside for help. The incident occurred in August 2011, but CBS Chicago only recently obtained the security video.
According to state regulators, spraying Lewis directly with the fire extinguisher was a violation of proper emergency procedures. Emergency response experts noted numerous additional problems.
One problem noted was the apparent lack of emergency training for the staff. A report by CBS Chicago said that the nursing home was cited for failing to provide emergency training.
An expert said that Lewis should have been covered with a blanket and had his airways checked. Instead, as seen in the security camera footage, Lewis sat unattended for several minutes before a staff member brought oxygen. The expert noted that no one appeared to conduct an evaluation of Lewis' condition or perform CPR on him until Chicago EMS crews arrived on the scene.
The EMS crews found Lewis in cardiac arrest and performed CPR, but Lewis died at the scene.
An emergency response expert also said that damp sheets should have been placed over Lewis, to prevent the progression of the burn process.
Lisa Couch, the victim's sister, said that her brother was nearing the end of his stay at the facility and was preparing to return home. According to Couch, Lewis suffered burns from his mid-thigh to his eyebrows. She has filed a lawsuit against the nursing home.
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