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The Physicians Committee

Recent Victories: End of Animal Use for Trauma Training in Sight

SheepTrauma training programs across the country continue to switch from live animals to medical simulators. Thanks to your efforts, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are the latest.

For the last year and a half, you have asked Mass General to stop using live sheep for Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS). You demonstrated, sent e-mails, and called. And PCRM recently learned the hospital now uses medical simulators instead of live animals.

PCRM senior medical adviser John Pippin, M.D., and 12 other Massachusetts physicians congratulated Mass General’s president Peter Slavin, M.D., and his hospital for joining the overwhelming majority of ATLS programs in the United States and Canada that exclusively use medical simulation instead of live animals for ATLS.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), animal use became the subject of controversy after PCRM filed a legal complaint with the federal government arguing that the institution’s use of live animals violates the Animal Welfare Act.

But earlier this year, a Pennsylvania physician affiliated with PCRM received confirmation of UPMC’s move to replace animals from the course director. “I congratulate everyone involved in reaching this wise decision, which will provide the most up-to-date, sophisticated training available and adhere to the ethical and humane practices that doctors pledge to uphold,” says Ronald Banner, M.D.

Ninety-six percent of ATLS programs in the United States now use simulators. But ATLS training at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts still involves cutting into anesthetized pigs and practicing procedures such as inserting a tube and needle into the animals’ chest cavities and cutting into their throats. After the training session, the animals are killed. The animals are also subjected to the trauma of confinement, shipping, and preparation for surgery.

Baystate operates a medical simulation center accredited by the American College of Surgeons—one of only 39 simulation centers in the world to have received this accreditation. If these simulation devices were fully utilized, the institution could immediately replace the use of animals. Ask Baystate to replace the use of pigs with simulators today.

To take action on all of PCRM’s ATLS campaigns, visit


PCRM Online, June 2011

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