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Animals Unlawfully Used in University of Washington’s Pediatrics Training

Live ferrets are unlawfully used in invasive and painful procedures in the pediatrics residency program at the University of Washington, says PCRM in a federal complaint filed last month.

live ferrets are unlawfully used in invasive and often lethal procedures at University of Washington“It is unnecessary to traumatize and harm animals to teach pediatric emergency procedures, especially when validated simulators are widely used,” says pediatrician Leslie Brown, M.D., a PCRM member who co-signed the federal complaint with John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C. “A human infant’s anatomy is different from a ferret’s, and residents at UW can get a better education using human patient simulators.” PCRM’s complaint was covered by The Seattle Times.

Pediatrics training at the University of Washington involves using live ferrets for endotracheal intubation. This involves repeatedly forcing a plastic tube through the mouth and into the windpipe (trachea) of a live ferret. Animals used in this training procedure often suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, and severe pain.

UW could replace the use of animals with Premie HAL and Premie Blue simulators from Gaumard. These training tools are specifically designed to replicate the anatomy of premature newborns and have an anatomically correct airway, including a tongue, vocal cords, and trachea.

UW’s animal use program has a track record of negligence, resulting in numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. For example, UW was cited in 2009 when a nonhuman primate starved to death due to neglect and in 2007 when unauthorized surgeries were performed on pigs.

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 used by more than 85 percent of U.S. pediatrics programs surveyed by PCRM, including Oregon Health & Science University, Yale-New Haven Medical Center, and Stanford University.

To learn more about nonanimal teaching methods and see video footage of Premie HAL, visit

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

PCRM Online, March 2011

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