Letter Urges University Dean to Halt Invasive Ferret Use; 94 Percent of U.S. Pediatrics Residency Programs Use Nonanimal Methods
WASHINGTON—The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University is now the only program in North Carolina using live animals in its pediatrics residency program, according to a letter the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently sent the university’s dean.
The communication alerted the dean that Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., recently notified PCRM that it switched to medical simulators. This makes East Carolina University (ECU) one of 10 pediatrics residency programs in the United States—and the only one in North Carolina—known to still be using animals.
“ECU residents deserve the best possible educational experience to prepare them to care for newborns,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s director of academic affairs. “A ferret’s anatomy is different from a human baby’s, and residents can get a better education using state-of-the-art, human-centered technology.”
Pediatrics training at ECU involves using live ferrets for endotracheal intubation. This includes repeatedly forcing a plastic tube into the mouth and windpipe of a live ferret. These practices are inferior to the more advanced and more prevalent simulation methods used by 94 percent of U.S. pediatrics programs, including highly regarded regional programs such as Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest.
This year, nine U.S. pediatrics residency programs have confirmed an end to their animal use, including the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, the University of Arizona, and the University of California at San Diego.
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.