PCRM Urges Medical Schools to Go High-Tech
Only 19 medical schools in the country still use live animal labs to teach basic concepts in physiology, pharmacology, or surgery. Because the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has access to modern simulation technology and Louisiana State University (LSU) has to temporarily halt the labs because of hurricane damage, these two schools have unique opportunities to permanently end the use of animals in medical education.
The Wisconsin Humane Society has joined PCRM in asking MCW to phase out these laboratories before the next class session begins in February 2007. The school is in a good position to do so given that it already has four human patient simulators on campus. Three board members from the Wisconsin Humane Society met with MCW president T. Michael Bolger in September to discuss the ethical and educational advantages of using that modern simulation technology.
LSU reported to PCRM that it is unable to hold animal laboratories this year because of damage to the animal facility caused by Hurricane Katrina. PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., is suggesting that LSU take the opportunity to turn a terrible circumstance into a positive situation by ending these exercises permanently.
“Please take this opportunity to replace the use of animals in all the required and elective medical school physiology courses at LSU with validated and widely employed simulators and/or other alternative teaching methods,” Dr. Pippin said in a letter to the interim head of the department of physiology, Michael G. Levitzky, Ph.D.
Dr. Pippin went on to explain that the use of animals for teaching physiology has been eliminated in 85 percent of medical schools in the United States and Canada. “Many simulation center directors, course directors, and other educators are on record supporting the educational advantages of human simulators and other nonanimal teaching alternatives,” Dr. Pippin added.