CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a national nonprofit of 12,000 physicians, is calling on the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga (UTCOM Chattanooga) to modernize its medical training methods and do away with live animal use. According to a complaint that the Physicians Committee will file with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Sept. 21, the animal use violates federal law.
“Alternative training methods are widely used and accepted as superior to animal use, as they are designed to reflect the anatomy and physiology of humans,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “In using animals instead of human-based methods, the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga is failing to provide a modern medical education.”
The complaint focuses on three areas of medical training in which the use of animals is far outside the norm:
- Emergency medicine resident training: Future physicians are told to make incisions into an animal’s throat and chest to insert tubes, cut into veins, and insert needles into the chest. Ninety percent of surveyed emergency residency programs in the United States and Canada (171 of 189) use human-based methods instead of live animals.
- Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS): Across the United States and Canada, 99 percent of the more than 300 ATLS courses use only human-based training methods. In UTCOM Chattanooga’s ATLS courses, trainees surgically open the veins of live animals and insert tubes and needles into the throat, abdomen, and chest.
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS): During this training course, breathing tubes are forced down the throats of small animals. The American Heart Association, which accredits PALS courses, has said that it “does not endorse the use of live animals for PALS training.”
The complaint cites violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and inadequate oversight of the training protocol by the university’s animal care and use committee. The Physicians Committee is requesting that all three training programs end animal use.
For a copy of the federal complaint or to interview Dr. Pippin, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or RPohl@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 and medical training.