Cats Endure Bleeding and Bruising in University of Virginia Training Program
Live cats are used in a cruel pediatrics residency training program at the University of Virginia. PCRM’s recent federal complaint says this is unlawful and that the university already owns a simulator that better mimics newborn anatomy.
Pediatrics training at the University of Virginia (UVA) includes repeatedly forcing a plastic tube through the mouth and into the windpipe (trachea) of a live cat. Animals used in this training procedure can suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, severe pain, and they are at risk of death.
“It is unnecessary to traumatize and harm animals to teach pediatric emergency procedures, especially when validated simulators developed to replace animals are widely used,” says Josie Kinkade, M.D., a local physician who co-signed the federal complaint. “A newborn’s anatomy is different from a cat’s, and residents at UVA can get a better education using human based medical simulators.”
UVA’s state-of-the-art medical simulation center already owns a simulator validated for this training. Numerous pediatrics residencies use the Gaumard Premie HAL and Premie Blue simulators, which mimic the airway of a low birth weight premature newborn.
PCRM’s complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Eastern Region Animal Care office, states, “UVA is violating the AWA because superior training methods exist that could replace the university’s use of live animals and alleviate this severe pain.” The complaint also cites inadequate oversight in the approval of the training protocol by the school’s animal care and use committee.
The Animal Welfare Act’s implementing regulations “require that a principal investigator—including course instructors—consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to any animal used for research purposes.”
Nonanimal education methods are exclusively used by 94 percent of U.S. pediatrics programs, including those at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Inova Fairfax Hospital and Hospital for Children, and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, according to an ongoing PCRM survey.