Lake Shore nursing home in ChicagoLake Shore HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre

A nursing home presumably is staffed with nurses, doctors, and other caregivers who are trained in CPR and other life-saving skills.

Or so one would think.

But that is not the case with a nursing home in Chicago, Lake Shore HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre, at 7200 N Sheridan Rd.

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Dave Savini reports for CBS2 Chicago, Sept. 30, 2013, that Michael Lewis was nearing the end of his stay at Lake Shore when tragedy struck.

Michael LewisMichael Lewis

Security camera footage shows Lewis smoking a cigarette on the patio, a designated smoking area, when the lighter in his pocket suddenly catches his shirt on fire.

Fellow nursing home patients who were in the patio try, but fail, to put out the flames. Lewis then frantically pushes himself back inside to get help.

Lake Shore1

Inside, frantic staff members spray Lewis with a fire extinguisher; then they roll him back outside, where his smoldering body covered in foam sits motionless.

Lake Shore2Red arrow points to the lifeless body of Lewis in his wheelchair, while nursing home staff stand around watching.

State nursing home regulators say spraying Lewis directly with the extinguisher was against the rules.

Dr. Stanley Zydlo, an emergency response expert, watched the video and says “There didn’t seem to be anybody in control as to who was to do what.” More than five minutes after the fire, a man in blue scrubs finally brings oxygen but “We don’t see anybody evaluating him or doing CPR for him,” Zydlo notes.

Zydlo says what the nursing home staff should have done are:

  • Instead of spraying Lewis with a fire extinguisher, a blanket should have been used to cover him immediately.
  • Someone should have checked the victim’s airway.
  • Damp sheets should have been placed on Lewis because the burn process is progressive and will continue unless you cool it down.

In fact, there’s no evidence on the security camera video of anyone performing life-saving CPR on Lewis until after Chicago EMS crews arrive on the scene. By then, crucial minutes had already passed and Lewis was found lifeless in cardiac arrest. CPR was finally administered, ten minutes after the fire had first started.

Facility representatives refused to talk on-camera about Michael Lewis’s death. They sent a statement saying they cannot comment due to privacy laws.

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The home was cited for failing to train staff in emergency procedures and is facing a lawsuit filed by Lewis’ sister.

To see the CBS2 news video, including surveillance camera footage, go here.


Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.