Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas Massacre

Despite a rigidly enforced news blackout in my household, the really bad events have a way of surfacing. When I heard hundreds of people were victims of gunshot wounds in Las Vegas  the logistics of treating this much trauma boggled my mind.

Three gunshot wounds were enough to wreak havoc in our busy Chicago OR. We used to mark preop X-rays with paper clips in a usually futile attempt to track trajectory. Projectiles can bounce or tumble after striking bone. The deflected path is difficult to assess. A box of paperclips lasted for years in the old time OR. I wonder if CT scans have eliminated the paper clip markers, but it's painful to think how many paper clips would be needed for hundreds of people.

The aftermath of mass shootings is becoming well scripted. The shooter is characterized as a psychotic madman which further unfairly stigmatizes the mentally ill. Politicians praise first responders and express sympathy for the victims. I heard one senator said it was to early in the investigation to consider legislative solutions. What more investigation is needed after learning the extent of the slaughter.

The gun rights folks will cite the second amendment which was crafted in an age of muzzle loaded weapons which took time to reload. I don't think our forefathers envisioned wide distribution of  rapid fire assault type weapons, but gun folks might allude to the notion that it's a price that must be paid for freedom.

I wish folks could see how powerful guns are when bullets meet human flesh. Tiny entrance wounds give way to shredded small bowel and lacerated livers. If shooters knew how tired hands get loading hundreds of needle drivers or counting pack after pack of  4X4s they might see things differently.

I am so sorry for the victims and cannot fathom how surgeons and nurses could treat so much trauma.


  1. I've been to only one gunshot wound case during Med school. I saw other types on trauma during my trauma calls... and I'm not a surgeon so that's it for me. This is so sad indeed....

  2. I hope that the hospitals involved with the victims offer their staff some much needed counseling ~

  3. You want some gun legislation? Even Steve Scalise, himself almost killed by a gunman, won't come out in favor of gun control. There is something seriously wrong with the current crop of Republicans. They care way more about NRA money than about representing their constituents.

  4. Politics and the gun debate seem to generate lots of talk and ill will with nothing being done. With hundreds of people subjected to so much trauma, I think of the whole sickening situation as a public health threat that needs to cease. Maybe framing the legislative actions as trauma mitigating or life sparing would help.

    In Chicago many pro gun folks argued that guns were necessary for self-protection. I disagreed but could see their point.

    I suspect some of the people attending the music festival were carrying, but could not defend themselves from a sniper with an assault rifle firing from an elevation. It's difficult for me to understand why a civilian would need a military assault rifle designed specifically for killing.