Real Face Time

By Scott LaFee

October 7, 2020 5 min read

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth visits surged, which made sense: It was simpler and safer to meet with a physician virtually, and in most cases, good enough. In April, telehealth visits accounted for nearly 70% of health encounters, but patients have become increasingly more comfortable and desired to see their providers in person. In mid-July, telehealth visits were down to 21% of all health encounters.

E, as in Emergency Department

E-scooters continue to provide plenty of business for local emergency departments and urgent care clinics. A new study found more than 70,000 e-scooter-related visits to EDs going back to 2014, but incidence rates really jumped when they became widely available in major cities after 2017: from 15,500 ED visits in 2018 to nearly 30,000 one year later.

Two-thirds of these visits involve men. Head injuries were most common, and 1 in 12 injuries in 2019 involved some kind of substance abuse, usually alcohol.

Body of Knowledge

The English-speaking world adopted the word "influenza" in the mid-18th century. The French called the malady "la grippe," from "gripper," meaning "to grasp or hook." In Arabic, there's a similar-sounding term: "anfalanza," which means "nose of the goat" because people used to believe coughing, drooling, dripping-nose goats were carriers for a flu-like illness in humans.

Get Me That, Stat!

It requires 50 minutes of running or walking five miles to burn the calories consumed in a single 20-ounce bottle of sugary soda.

Mark Your Calendar

October is awareness month for breast cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dental hygiene, Down syndrome, eye safety, spina bifida, bullying prevention, domestic violence, healthy lungs and medical librarians, who keep track of all of the above.


14: percentage of college students in a 2019 survey who said they had vaped marijuana in the previous 30 days, up from 5.2% in 2017

Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research

Stories for the Waiting Room

Among the big questions about COVID-19 is the likelihood of reinfection. Researchers still don't have a good answer, but they got a clue recently with the first documented case of an individual who was infected with one variant of the virus, recovered and then was reinfected with a different variant months later.

The case, in Hong Kong, involved a 33-year-old man who got COVID-19 in March but recovered. Five months later, he contracted the disease again, this time in Europe. The second time around, though, he was asymptomatic.

Scientists say the reinfection isn't cause for panic but rather a "textbook example of how immunity should work."

Doc Talk

Telogen effluvium: a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock or a traumatic event. It's different from the hair disorder called alopecia areata.

Phobia of the Week

Ancraophobia: fear of wind or drafts

Best Medicine

First patient: "I just found out I'm colorblind."

Second patient: "Wow!"

First patient: "Yeah, I know. The diagnosis came completely out of the purple."


"Sickness is felt, but health not at all." — English clergyman and historian Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

Medical History

This week in 1997, American biology professor Stanley B. Prusiner won the Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering "prions," described as "an entirely new genre of disease-causing agents." The name means "proteinaceous infectious particle." Prions cause brain diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease; the human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; and scrapie in sheep and goats. Prions are too small to be seen with normal microscopy. They are self-replicating but contain no nucleic acid. They are highly resistant to destruction or denaturation by common chemical and physical agents, such as disinfectants, formalin, heat, UV or ionizing radiation. Incineration of infected tissues requires a temperature above 900 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours.

Med School

Q: It's well-documented that smoking accelerates biological aging. How much older are the lungs of a middle-aged habitual smoker compared with those of a nonsmoker of the same age?

a) 1

b) 3-5

c) 7

d) 10-15

A: d) 10-15 years


"I came here without being consulted and I leave without my consent." — headstone in St. Elmo Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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: ArtisticOperations at Pixabay

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