Doctors Protest UVA's Cruel Use of Cats in Invasive Procedures

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE April 13, 2012
Doctors Protest UVA's Cruel Use of Cats in Invasive Procedures
Ulka Agarwal, M.D.

Physician-Led Demonstration and Petition Urge University to “End Cruel Live Animal Labs” on April 12

CHARLOTTESVILLE—The University of Virginia should end the unnecessary use of live cats in its pediatrics residency program, says a national physicians group that held a “Switch to Simulation” protest at the university. Doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) joined concerned Virginia residents on April 12 for a demonstration in front of the rotunda on campus.

Protestors carried banners reading, "End Cruel Live Animal Labs,” “UVA: Using Cats to Teach Human Medicine?" and “To Improve Education, Switch to Simulation.” Doctors also delivered a petition signed by more than 800 Virginia physicians and residents urging a move to nonanimal methods.

Pediatrics training at UVA involves using live kittens and adult cats for endotracheal intubation. This includes repeatedly forcing a plastic tube into the mouth and windpipe (trachea) of a live cat. According to recent UVA veterinary records, animals used in this training procedure have suffered broken teeth, eye infections, and other injuries.

Effective nonanimal education methods are exclusively used by 95 percent of U.S. pediatrics programs surveyed by PCRM, including Inova Fairfax Hospital and Hospital for Children, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. UVA is the last pediatrics program in the state still using animals.

“The University of Virginia’s use of cats is inhumane and unnecessary,” says Ulka Agarwal, M.D., PCRM’s chief medical officer. “UVA residents deserve the best possible educational experience to prepare them to care for newborns. A cat’s anatomy is different from a human newborn’s, and residents can get a better education using state-of-the-art, human-centered technology.”

The vast majority of pediatrics programs use purpose-designed infant and neonatal simulators, which mimic the airway of a low birth weight premature newborn. UVA’s state-of-the-art medical simulation center already owns simulators validated for this training and if the institute were fully utilized, the university could immediately replace its use of animals.

For an interview with Dr. Agarwal, 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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