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Victory! Ferrets and Rabbits Saved from Pediatrics Training in Texas

Thanks to PCRM’s efforts to end animal use in pediatrics training, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio no longer uses and kills rabbits and ferrets to train its pediatrics residents. With your help, we can win all of our campaigns to end animal use in medical education.

FerrettPediatrics Training

PCRM contacted the UT Health Science Center last fall about switching to modern nonanimal methods, and in December filed public records requests for information about the program’s animal use. In February, the chair of the school’s pediatrics department contacted PCRM to confirm that they had stopped using animals.

Educationally superior simulators are available that can completely replace the crude and outdated use of animals in all pediatrics residency programs. The Premie HAL and Premie Blue simulators replicate the anatomy of premature newborns and have an anatomically correct airway, including a tongue, vocal cords, and trachea. Ninety percent of surveyed pediatrics residencies already use nonanimal education methods.

Unfortunately, the University of Washington (UW) continues to abuse ferrets in its pediatrics training program. Animals used in the school’s training procedures can suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, and severe pain, and some have died.

But you can ask UW interim president Phyllis Wise, Ph.D., to replace the use of ferrets in the school's pediatrics residency program with validated human-based training methods.

Medical Student Education

Lethal animal use also continues in the training of some medical students, despite the existence of high-fidelity simulators. Last month, PCRM member physicians wrote to University of Tennessee College of Medicine (UTCOM) asking the school's dean to end the deadly use of live pigs in the surgery clerkship on its Chattanooga campus. Only seven out of 176 accredited medical schools in the United States still use live animals in their curricula.

Please take a minute to let UTCOM executive dean Steve Schwab, M.D., know that you want him to end the school’s deadly pig lab on its Chattanooga campus.

Trauma Training

Live animals are also unlawfully used and killed to teach emergency procedures in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training courses. Last month, local physicians joined PCRM in filing criminal complaints with two district attorneys' offices to halt animal labs at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Baystate Medical Center, because they violate Massachusetts’ animal cruelty law.

ATLS training at MGH involves practicing procedures such as inserting a tube and needle into the chest cavities of sheep and cutting into their throats. Trauma training at Baystate is similar, but involves pigs. After the training sessions at both institutions, the animals are killed.

Both MGH and Baystate could replace animal use with the TraumaMan System simulator approved by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Baystate operates an ACS-accredited medical simulation center—one of only 39 simulation centers to have received this accreditation. If these simulation devices were fully utilized, the institutions could immediately replace the use of animals.

Ask MGH and Baystate to end the use of live animals in trauma training courses and join 95 percent of U.S. facilities providing ATLS training use lifelike human patient models and other high-tech nonanimal methods.

To learn more about ending animal use in medical education, visit


PCRM Online, April 2011

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