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Tulane University Kills Pigs, Violates Federal Law

Tulane University lists “integrity” as a core value: “We will act ethically … We are willing to be held accountable for our actions.” Louisiana physician and PCRM member Leslie Brown, M.D., is holding the school to that promise. Last month, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging that the institution is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act for using live pigs in a trauma training course.

pigsBut Tulane University senior vice president and dean Benjamin Sachs, M.B., has ignored pleas to change this method, although effective nonanimal alternatives for use in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses have been approved by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the body that oversees these courses. Tulane operates a state-of-the-art medical simulation center and owns several of the ACS-approved simulators. The center could be used to replace the school’s use of animals without incurring significant additional cost to the university.

ATLS training at Tulane University School of Medicine involves cutting into live, anesthetized pigs and practicing emergency medical procedures. After the training session, the animals are killed. Although the animals are anesthetized during the procedures, they are subjected to the trauma of confinement, shipping, preparation, and experimentation.

“Cutting into living animals is a substandard way to teach emergency procedures that will be used on humans,” says John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM senior medical and research adviser. “Tulane already owns and uses simulators, including TraumaMan, to teach procedures also taught with live pigs. The school should transition to state-of-the-art, nonanimal teaching methods for these trauma courses.”

Nonanimal education methods are used by 95 percent of U.S. and Canadian facilities providing ATLS training, including the University of South Alabama, the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.

To ask Dr. Sachs to end the use of animals in Tulane’s ATLS program and to learn how you can help end the use of animals in other trauma training programs, visit

John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

PCRM Online, April 2010

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