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Mass General Stops Trauma Training on Animals
May 6, 2011

sheep used in trauma training

Massachusetts General Hospital has ended its use of animals in trauma training, after a long effort by PCRM and its member physicians. The move reflects a continued trend away from the use of animals in Advanced Trauma Life Support courses. Of the U.S. and Canadian programs surveyed by PCRM, 95 percent now use nonanimal methods.

Needless to say, taking animals out of the equation is not only the ethical thing to do; it is also much better for the trainees, because they can train in the clinical setting or on simulators that are based on human anatomy.

Harvard Medical School made the switch long ago. Harvard medical students asked PCRM to meet with Harvard faculty and students, who readily adopted a new program that replaced the animal laboratory with a practicum in the operating room. But the residents and physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital found themselves stuck with an animal laboratory.  Even though trauma courses at Yale, Duke, the University of Michigan, and elsewhere adopted nonanimal methods, Mass General was still using sheep.

In October 2009, PCRM physicians and hospital employees called for an end to the animal laboratories in a demonstration outside the hospital. In December 2010, the University of Massachusetts Medical School ended its use of animals in trauma training, after a push from PCRM, putting more pressure on Mass General to do the same. The last straw came in March 2011, when PCRM filed a complaint with the local district attorney, pointing out that Mass General was violating state law by intentionally and cruelly mutilating animals.

Mass General has now adopted the TraumaMan System, a realistic and anatomically correct human simulator for trauma training. We are delighted with the hospital’s decision, and are encouraging all remaining institutions to do the same.


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