Use of Live Animals in Canadian Pediatrics Program Violates Law
Laval University regularly violates Quebec law by subjecting live animals to abuse and ill-treatment in the school’s pediatrics residency program. In March, the Physicians Committee filed a complaint asking Quebec’s legal system to investigate the live animal component of this training program and take steps to prevent further violations of Quebec law.
According to documents obtained by the Physicians Committee from Laval via Quebec’s public records law, each pediatrics resident is instructed to make an incision between a piglet’s ribs, insert tubes into the chest cavity, insert a needle into the abdominal cavity, cut open and insert a needle into an animal’s veins, and insert a needle under the breast bone and into the sac surrounding the heart. The piglet is then killed and residents are instructed to make incisions in the animal’s throat, into which a tube is inserted. These activities constitute “abuse or ill-treatment” specifically prohibited by Quebec’s Animal Health Protection Act, according to the Physicians Committee’s complaint.
Laval’s animal use protocol justifies the use of piglets by claiming “there are no satisfactory options allowing realistic demonstration and practice of all the procedures.” But several human-based simulators—including SimBaby, BabySim, SimNewB, Airway Newborn, the TraumaChild System, and Nita Newborn V800—are available and allow these procedures to be taught without the use of live animals.
“High-fidelity simulators are life-like mannequins connected to computer systems that control the physiological and physical responses of the mannequin,” said an article in the official journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society. “These simulators are able to provide direct feedback to learners in safe, risk-free environments. This technology has been used to teach all aspects of medical care, including medical knowledge, technical skills, and behavioural training or communication skills.”