ST. LOUIS—Washington University has ended the use of live cats and ferrets in its pediatrics program, as announced in an e-mail to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The Physicians Committee—a national nonprofit of 12,000 concerned physicians—applauds the university’s decision to join all other surveyed programs in the United States in using human-relevant training methods, like advanced medical simulators.
“The best way to teach emergency airway intervention is on human-relevant training methods. I commend Washington University for switching to modern methods,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “With this decision, Wash U's pediatrics training has progressed into the 21st century.”
On Oct. 14, Washington University Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics Gary Silverman, M.D., Ph.D., responded to a Physicians Committee inquiry by writing: “Yes, we ended this and are looking for adoptive ‘parents’ for the cats.” Prior to this decision, pediatrics residents at the school were instructed to force a breathing tube down the throats of live cats and ferrets to practice endotracheal intubation.
Washington University announced in 2013 that it would stop using cats for the same procedure in a different course. In addition, the Department of Defense ended the use of animals in pediatrics residency courses and neonatal resuscitation training as of Jan. 1, 2015.
Now all of the 198 U.S. pediatrics programs surveyed by the Physicians Committee use only nonanimal, human-based education methods. Only one of the 17 Canadian pediatrics residencies continues to use animals: Laval University of Quebec. Dr. Pippin will submit a letter to Laval University Rector Denis Brière, Ph.D., to inform him of the news.
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.