By Scott LaFee

October 10, 2018 5 min read

In 2016, more than a quarter-million people worldwide died from firearm-related injuries, according to a new study published in the JAMA Network. The good news is that the global death rate from guns has decreased a bit less than 1 percent per year since 1990. The bad news is that half of all 2016 firearm deaths occurred in just six countries in the Americas: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala (all notable for chronic or severe social unrest and crime) and the United States.

Each year, more than 33,000 Americans die firearm-related deaths, a total that is rising.

In 2016, 64 percent of global firearm mortality was due to homicides, with 27 percent attributed to suicides and 9 percent to accidents.

Big Doctor Is Watching

The first digital pill is slated to be available soon. It will have a list price of $1,650 a month and treat people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Medicaid will cover the cost in some regions.

The digital pill, called Abilify MyCite, is embedded with a sensor that alerts a doctor or caregiver when it is swallowed. The generic pill form of Abilify costs $700 for a month's supply.

Body of Knowledge

Gums are renewed every one to two weeks.

Get Me That, Stat!

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases hit record highs in 2017, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, there were more than 2.2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the U.S., up from 2016 by more than 200,000 cases.


90: Estimated percentage of Americans who used at least one digital health tool last year, such as online health information or online provider reviews

Source: Rock Health

Doc Talk

Champagne tap: A successful lumbar puncture with no red blood cells present, which means it is as clean as possible. The champagne reference comes from the custom of celebrating the difficult feat with a bottle of champagne.

Mania of the Week

Infomania: Excessive devotion to accumulating facts, important and otherwise

Life in Big Macs

One hour of cleaning out rain gutters burns 340 calories (based on a 150-pound person), or the equivalent of half a Big Mac.

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for flautas is 65 in 10 minutes, held by Ben Monson — possibly an achievement worth flouting.


"I used to think the brain was the most important organ. Then, I thought, look what's telling me that." — Anonymous

Medical History

This week in 1928, the iron lung was used by its first patient, a young girl at Children's Hospital in Boston. The artificial respirator enabled her to breathe, despite being paralyzed by polio. This negative pressure ventilator, invented by a young Harvard doctor named Philip Drinker, was the first widely used device of its kind. From the neck down, the patient's body lay in a sealed galvanized iron box. The 3- by 7-foot, 700-pound apparatus was powered by two household vacuum cleaners. As air was pumped out of the metal box, the patient's lungs drew in air, which was expelled as the air pump cycle next increased pressure in a cycle mimicking a normal breathing rate.


Q: What is the record for the largest tumor removed intact?

A: In 1991, doctors at Stanford University Medical Center removed a multicystic mass from a female patient's right ovary. The mass weighed 303 pounds. The patient, after the mass was removed, weighed 210 pounds. Both left the operating room on individual gurneys.

There are, of course, different records for specific types of tumors. For example, earlier this year, Indian physicians laid claim to the largest known brain tumor, removing a mass that weighed 3 pounds — about the same as an average brain weighs alone.

Curtain Calls

Clement Vallandigham was a 19th-century Ohio politician and lawyer defending Thomas McGehan, who had been charged with murder in 1871. While demonstrating to fellow attorneys at his hotel room how the victim might have accidentally shot himself while pulling a gun from his clothing (something he planned to do before the jury), Vallandigham shot himself in the abdomen with a pistol he thought was unloaded. Vallandigham's demonstration proved his point and McGehan was ultimately cleared of the murder charge. Vallandigham died from his injury.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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