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Adverse consequences of failing to use science to guide treatment of COVID-19

Author(s): By Donna Hallas PhD, PPCNP-BC, CPNP, PMHS, FAANP, FAAN

Appalling and inexcusable are the first two words that comes to mind: I am confident that, we, as nurses and nurse practitioners (NPs) [inclusive of all levels of advanced practice providers e.g., Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in all clinical specialties, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), etc] and all of our interprofessional healthcare providers (HCPs) were shocked, beyond belief, when it was suggested by the President, during his nightly briefing (4-23-2020) on the COVID-19 pandemic, to inject disinfectant, or use light and heat as treatment for COVID-19. If there was a nurse on the platform, I feel confident that the nurse would have made an immediate correction of the information presented, as we, the nursing workforce of the U.S. advocate for our patients, and especially, our most vulnerable patients.

Thus, our immediate message to all of our patients and families must be and continue to be “Never ingest in anyway or form a disinfectant. Do not use any forms of light or heat for treatment. Always seek and follow the advice of your healthcare providers!”

In light of this outrageous suggestion, we must help everyone understand the value of using science to support all medical treatments. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone living in every state throughout the United States. Indeed, this is perhaps the first time in many years, that medical researchers and scientists are openly battling an unknown aggressive novel virus that is globally affecting all populations, for which there are, to date, no evidence-based treatments or vaccines. While interprofessional HCPs are caring for the most acutely ill patients in the hospital and other HCPs are trying to keeping individuals and families safe and well at home within communities that are ‘hot spots’ and those with less disease prevalence. To fathom that a few mis-spoken, mis-guided words may thwart the day-to-day healthcare efforts to combat COVID-19 is mind-boggling.

The response by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner1 and Lysol were swift and powerful2. Let’s get that message out to our patients and families.

Please use whatever forms of communication you have with your patients to prevent anyone, and especially our most vulnerable populations, from trying any non-scientific forms of treatment.


No one is untouched by the overwhelming statistics showing the loss of lives in counties, states, nationally, and internationally during this pandemic. Families who are not able to be with their critically ill loved ones during hospitalizations and at the time of their death are talking and writing about their anguish. Their stories are compelling and heartbreaking. It will take a significant amount of time and definitive community efforts to help the recovery process. One small comfort may be the physicians, nurses and interprofessional HCPs who have openly identified themselves as being with their patients at a moment in time when presence by another human being is so essential. We, as nurses, understand the importance of presence during critical illnesses and when an individual is close to death. If nothing else, the stories of presence by all HCPs can provide a meaningful sense of comfort for grieving family members. As we support the families who have experienced unthinkable losses, explain presence to each individual and family member….it may play a smart part to simultaneously heal both family members and the healthcare workforce. We know, that once the beast is conquered, efforts to heal the mind and the communities will take center stage.


  1. Christensen, J. (2020, April 23, 2020). Don’t eat or inject yourself with disinfectant, warns FDA commissioner. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-04-23-20-intl/h_1d2d1c2779b624b151a1f72557aabe0d
  2. Dwyer, C. (2020, April 24, 2020). Under no circumstance: Lysol maker, officials reject Trump’s disinfectant idea. Retrieved from https://www.weaa.org/post/under-no-circumstance-lysol-maker-officials-reject-trumps-disinfectant-idea#stream/0

Donna Hallas PhD, PPCNP-BC, CPNP, PMHS, FAANP, FAAN is a certified as a pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric primary care mental health specialist. She is a Clinical Professor and Director of the PNP program at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She has presented nationally and internationally on numerous research and clinical topics with the overall goal of improving health care outcomes for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. 

Her first book, Behavioral pediatric healthcare: A growth and developmental approach to intercepting abnormal behaviors, earned the prestigious American Journal of Nursing 2018 Book of the Year Award earning first place for Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing and third place for Child Health.

Dr. Hallas is a digital editor for Contemporary Pediatrics and writes a monthly commentary which focuses on applying information in one or more journal articles to pediatric clinical practice. Here is a link to the PNP corner www.contemporarypediatrics.com/pnp-corner.

Dr. Hallas’ most recent research focuses on vaccine hesitancy. She and colleagues designed a web-based intervention study using the concepts of informed decision making and the influence of social media. The study was conducted using two populations: pregnant women  and mothers of newborns and young infants to determine the effectiveness of population-specific web-based interventions to reduce the incidence of vaccine hesitancy (Hallas, Altman, & Fletcher, 2018). The study was statistically significant for prenatal women and approached statistical significance for mothers of newborns and young infants. 

Please click on this link for a brief discussion by Dr. Hallas on vaccine hesitancy and the most recent measles outbreak: https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2019/october/one-question–why-do-some-parents-hesitate-to-vaccinate-their-ch.html.

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