Doctors Protest Hennepin County Medical Center’s Use of Animals

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE September 29, 2016
Doctors Protest Hennepin County Medical Center’s Use of Animals
Physician-Led Demonstration Will Urge Hennepin County Medical Center to “Modernize Medical Training”; 89 Percent of Surveyed Emergency Medicine Programs Use Human-Based Methods

MINNEAPOLIS—On Sept. 29, doctors and Minneapolis-area residents will be on site at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) to call for an end to the use of live rabbits and sheep in emergency medicine training and a switch to human-relevant methods. The Physicians Committee—the nonprofit representing more than 12,000 concerned physicians—is sponsoring the event. Demonstrators will carry signs and banners reading “Modernize Medical Training” and “End Animal Labs.”

WHAT:         A physician-led demonstration urging Hennepin County Medical Center to stop using live animals to train emergency medicine residents

WHO:           Matthew Clayton, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S.; Robin Ballina, M.D.; Jane Herrmann, M.D.; and concerned members of the public 

WHEN:         Thursday, Sept. 29, 10:45 a.m.

WHERE:        Hennepin County Medical Center, 701 Park Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 8th Street South)

Eighty-nine percent of the 160 surveyed emergency medicine residencies in the United States exclusively use nonanimal teaching methods for emergency procedural training—including top-ranked programs at the University of Southern California, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and Denver Health Medical Center.

However, at HCMC, residents practice emergency procedures on live animals. This training involves making incisions into an animal’s throat to insert a breathing tube, inserting needles into the chest to remove fluid surrounding the heart, splitting open the breastbone in order to access the heart, performing various cardiac procedures, cutting the lateral corner of the eye to drain fluid, and drilling holes into the skull. After the training sessions, the surviving animals (up to 300 per year) are killed.

HCMC already has a state-of-the-art facility which offers a full range of high-fidelity mannequins and partial task trainers that could provide the resources to replace the use of animals for teaching emergency medicine skills.

“The fact that about 90 percent of surveyed emergency medicine residencies across the country use only human-relevant training methods confirms that Hennepin County Medical Center’s substandard and inhumane use of live animals is really a major shortcoming of the program,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee director of academic affairs.

Demonstrators will invite attendees to send a message to HCMC’s Jon L. Pryor, M.D., M.B.A., asking the CEO to replace the use of live animals.

For an interview with a physician, 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.