USDA Complaint Says Invasive Animal Use Should Be Halted; Vast Majority of Pediatrics Residency Programs Use Nonanimal Methods
PHILADELPHIA—Live cats are unlawfully used in invasive procedures in the pediatrics residency program at Albert Einstein Medical Center, says the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in a federal complaint filed May 24.
Pediatrics training at Albert Einstein Medical Center (Albert Einstein) involves using live cats for endotracheal intubation. This includes repeatedly forcing a plastic tube through the mouth and into the windpipe (trachea) of a live cat. Animals used in this training procedure can suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, airway swelling, and severe pain, and they are at risk of death.
Ninety-five percent of U.S. pediatrics programs exclusively use nonanimal education methods, including the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to a PCRM survey. Albert Einstein is the last program in the state still using animals.
“It is unnecessary to traumatize animals to teach pediatric emergency procedures, since validated simulators are widely used,” says Samuel L. Jacobs, M.D., a physician in the Philadelphia public health system. “A newborn baby’s anatomy is different from a cat’s, and residents at Albert Einstein can get a better education using human patient simulators.” Dr. Jacobs co-signed the federal complaint with John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s director of academic affairs.
PCRM’s complaint, which is being filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Eastern Region Animal Care office, states, “Albert Einstein is violating the Animal Welfare Act because superior training methods exist that could replace the university’s use of live cats and alleviate the severe pain and injury that can be caused by this procedure.” The complaint also cites inadequate oversight in the approval of the training protocol by the medical center’s animal care and use committee.
For a copy of the federal complaint and to interview Dr. Jacobs or Dr. Pippin, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.