Doctors Protest Southern Illinois University's Use of Pigs in Invasive Procedures

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE October 30, 2013
Doctors Protest Southern Illinois University's Use of Pigs in Invasive Procedures

SPRINGFIELD—Southern Illinois University should cancel its unnecessary plan to use live pigs in its emergency medicine residency program and continue using human-relevant methods, says a national nonprofit of 10,000 concerned physicians. Doctors with the Physicians Committee will join students and Springfield-area residents on Oct. 30 for a physician-led demonstration outside the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SIU). Protesters will carry signs and banners reading "End Pig Lab,” “SIU: Using Pigs to Teach Human Medicine?" and “To Improve Education, Switch to Simulation.”

“Southern Illinois University’s planned use of animals is an unacceptable educational method,” says Marjorie Cramer M.D., F.A.C.S. “SIU residents deserve the best possible educational experience to prepare them to care for patients. A pig’s anatomy is vastly different from a human’s, and residents can get a better education using state-of-the-art, human-centered technology.”

Emergency medicine training at SIU would involve making an incision of the eyelid to drain previously injected fluid, then making an incision between ribs to insert a tube into the chest cavity. The residents would then surgically open the chest, make an incision in the throat, and insert a breathing tube. After the training, the pigs will be killed.

Superior nonanimal education methods are exclusively used by 83 percent of U.S. emergency medicine residency programs surveyed by the Physicians Committee. Simulab’s TraumaMan System, SynDaver’s Deluxe Cric Trainer, and CAE Healthcare’s Human Patient Simulator can be used to teach procedure skills taught in emergency medicine residency training. If SIU follows through with their plans to use live pigs in emergency medicine residency training, they will be the only emergency medicine residency program in Illinois to use animals.

The morning of the demonstration, doctors will deliver a petition for rulemaking that asks the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate gaps in its enforcement of Animal Welfare Act regulations related to the use of alternatives by defining key terms otherwise left undefined with the goal of ensuring that nonanimal alternatives will be used to the greatest extent possible.

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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