WebMD BlogsPublic Health

Coronavirus in Context: Do COVID-19 Vent Protocols Need a Second Look?

John Whyte, MD, MPH - Blogs
By John Whyte, MD, MPHBoard-certified internistApril 07, 2020

We often refer to it as the “novel” coronavirus. Since it’s “novel” – new – we are still determining what are the most effective treatment regimens. Typically, doctors make decisions based upon what has worked for similar diseases. Given that COVID-19 is a virus that is transmitted by respiratory droplets, the focus has been on making sure patients get enough oxygen. Within recent weeks, however, we have been seeing a high mortality for patients once they are put on a ventilator. There are several reasons why this can be the case, and we need to thoroughly examine them. Some physicians and scientists are suggesting we might not be managing it with the right ventilator protocols.

Part of the challenge is that we don’t always have enough data early-on in an epidemic. That’s why it is important to talk to physicians on the front-lines and hear about what they are seeing.  This creates more discussion and debate in the clinical and scientific community to help us determine the most effective treatment strategies.

That’s why I interviewed Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, an emergency medicine and critical care physician in New York city. He and other  physicians have seen different things that suggest  we may need to refine our treatment of coronavirus. Sidell feels that COVID-19 is behaving initially more like high-altitude pulmonary edema than acute respiratory distress syndrome. He has been sharing his observations in the hope of hearing other physicians’ experience. He wants us to debate and discuss it since the treatment strategies may differ.

This is a fast-moving situation where we continue to get new information almost daily. My goal is to help promote discussion about what’s the right treatment so we can save more lives. As doctors bring forward different  perspectives they need to be examined through the scientific process, and we need to move expeditiously to determine the most effective treatments.

In this series, WebMD's Chief Medical Officer interviews the nation’s top experts to get answers for the big coronavirus questions that are top of mind for all of us.

WebMD Blog
© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
John Whyte, MD, MPH

John Whyte, MD, MPH, is a board-certified internist and the Chief Medical Officer at WebMD, where he leads efforts to develop and expand strategic partnerships that create meaningful change around important and timely public health issues. As a popular health writer, he has been published extensively both in medical and mainstream publications.

More from the Public Health Blog

View all posts on Public Health

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More