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Progress in Ending Animal Abuse in Medical Education: Six PCRM Victories So Far this Summer
August 8, 2012

UPDATE: Since this blog was posted, East Carolina University has stopped using ferrets in its pediatrics residency program.

Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia informed PCRM this week that it has stopped using kittens to teach endotracheal intubation to pediatrics residents. The victory came after PCRM announced that local physicians were going to join us for a public demonstration outside the hospital. Special thanks go to John Pippin, M.D., PCRM’s director of academic affairs, and Greg Mazur, PCRM’s research and education programs coordinator, who worked hard to encourage the Medical Center to make the change.

Recent weeks have seen many medical centers agreeing with PCRM’s call to end the use of animals in their curricula: The Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia finally eliminated the use of animals in their medical school curricula, and Vanderbilt University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Texas at Houston joined Albert Einstein in Philadelphia in stopping the use of animals in pediatrics training.

Pediatricians need expertise in endotracheal intubation—placing a tube in to the trachea (windpipe) of a newborn. This training is now commonly done with human-like simulators, which match human anatomy and, unlike animals, can be used repeatedly until the trainee has achieved mastery.

Medical simulators such as PREMIE Hal are based on human anatomy and designed to replicate a premature, low birth weight child:

When this method is practiced over and over in an animal laboratory, the animals often suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, airway swelling, and severe pain, and they are at risk of death.

Despite the availability of advanced simulator technology, a handful of programs still use animals. The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University uses ferrets in its pediatrics residency program. We’ve filed a U.S. Department of Agriculture complaint that says the university is violating the Animal Welfare Act, given that superior training methods could replace the university’s use of live animals and alleviate the pain and injury that can be caused by this procedure. UPDATE: Since this blog was posted, East Carolina University has stopped using ferrets in its pediatrics residency program.

You can help us—and the animals—win another victory. Please ask the University of Virginia to end the use of cats in its pediatrics residency program.

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