Decision Reflects Nationwide Move Away from Animal Use for Medical Training
SPRINGFIELD—Southern Illinois University (SIU) has canceled its plan to use live pigs in its emergency medicine residency program and will instead continue using human-relevant methods. This decision comes after the Physicians Committee, a national nonprofit of 10,000 concerned physicians, spoke out against this unnecessary use of animals in a demonstration and a petition filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I congratulate SIU for reaching this decision, which is a victory for everyone involved,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee’s director of academic affairs. “There is no justification for using animals in medical training. Nonanimal teaching methods, like those the school was already using, offer a more effective—and humane—way to teach lifesaving procedures.”
Doctors with the Physicians Committee led a demonstration outside the SIU School of Medicine in October protesting the school’s planned use of pigs. They also filed a federal petition for rulemaking asking the USDA to eliminate gaps in its enforcement of Animal Welfare Act regulations to ensure that nonanimal alternatives will be used to the greatest extent possible.
The Physicians Committee has been encouraging SIU to cancel its plan to use pigs since June 2013, and SIU has postponed the plan several times as a result. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Physicians Committee has now confirmed that this animal lab is officially cancelled.
If SIU had gone through with its plan, residents would have been forced to make an incision in a pig’s eye to drain previously injected fluid, then make an incision between ribs to insert a tube into the chest cavity. The residents would have then surgically opened the chest, made an incision in the throat, and inserted a breathing tube. After the training, the pigs would have been killed. SIU would have been the only emergency medicine residency program in Illinois to use animals.
Superior nonanimal education methods are exclusively used by 86 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.
For an interview with Dr. Pippin, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or firstname.lastname@example.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.