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The Physicians Committee



Washington Deserves Better

UW: Killing Animals To Teach Human Medicine

At the University of Washington, pediatric endotracheal intubation training involves residents repeatedly forcing a breathing tube down the throats of ferrets. This causes tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, severe pain, and sometimes death. But the anatomical differences between these animals and humans render this type of training ineffective.

Ninety-four percent of pediatrics residency programs use nonanimal methods for endotracheal intubation training, the primary emergency procedure taught in pediatrics residencies. Medical simulators based on human anatomy are designed to replicate a premature, low birth weight child. One of these simulators was even designed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

UW is aware of these human-based training methods but continues to claim that ferrets are necessary to train residents. Internal communications obtained through the Washington Public Records Act reveal the truth. The head of newborn medicine reportedly stated that the use of ferrets at UW will end “because we can’t prove that they are any better than a training manikin.” Unfortunately, claiming that using ferrets for this training is necessary isn’t the only thing UW has been lying about.

Killing Rabbits

Earlier this year, the faculty member in charge of resident training told the Seattle Times that UW had stopped killing rabbits to teach chest tube placement. However, documents obtained by PCRM show otherwise. During this training rabbits are killed so that residents can practice making an incision and placing a hollow drainage tube into the animal’s chest cavity. Meanwhile, medical simulators are available that could easily replace this fatal animal lab.

Killing Ferrets

UW has also told the Seattle Times “we do not euthanize [ferrets].” PCRM has obtained documents showing that UW does in fact euthanize ferrets and killed nine animals used in intubation training between February 2008 and June 2011.

UW continues the inhumane practice of using and killing ferrets and rabbits to train future pediatricians despite the fact it has its very own state-of-the-art simulation center. The university’s Institute for Simulation & Interprofessional Studies can replace the use of animals immediately. Please take action and tell UW president Michael Young that Washington deserves better:

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Why is UW lying about killing animals?

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