Canada Ends Cruel Live Animal Labs

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE October 21, 2011
Canada Ends Cruel Live Animal Labs
John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Decision Reflects International Move Away from Live Animal Use for Trauma Training

WASHINGTON—Canadian hospitals and medical schools have ended their lethal use of live animals for trauma training. The last two institutions in the country still using animals recently moved to nonanimal methods: The University of Sherbrooke was using 32 dogs a year for trauma training but has switched to simulators. Last month, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal ended animal use following communications from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Many Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs in Canada had previously involved cutting open anesthetized pigs and dogs to practice emergency medical procedures.

Since 2009, nine Canadian ATLS programs have replaced animal use with simulators developed specifically for trauma training. The University of Saskatchewan, for example, was using live pigs until PCRM successfully lobbied the school to use nonanimal methods. Queen’s University and McMaster University also replaced animals with simulators following requests from the doctors’ group.

Now all of the nearly two dozen ATLS programs in Canada use only modern training methods that better equip medical professionals to respond to trauma injuries.

“I congratulate everyone involved in reaching this win-win decision, which combines the most up-to-date, sophisticated training available and the best ethical and humane practices," says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM's director of academic affairs. "There is no justification for using live animals in such courses. Nonanimal teaching methods offer a more effective—and more humane—way to teach lifesaving procedures. Canada now leads the way in achieving the best educational and ethical standards for ATLS training.”

Only five of more than 240 ATLS programs in the United States continue to use live animals for training. This shift has been facilitated by innovations in medical simulation technology, a rising awareness of ethical concerns, and a growing acknowledgement that medical training must be human-focused.

For an interview with Dr. Pippin, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or ddepas@pcrm.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.

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