February 11 Hearing for H.B. 289

The Physicians Committee
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February 11 Hearing for H.B. 289

A hearing was held in Maryland’s State House on Thursday, Feb. 12, for House Bill 289, which would end the use of live animals in medical education. Five Maryland physicians testified in person in support of the bill, including former Maryland state secretary of health and mental hygiene Martin Wasserman, M.D., J.D., F.A.A.P.; Baltimore resident Richard Bruno, M.D.; Pradip Sahdev, M.D., F.A.C.S., of Kensington; Barbara Wasserman, M.D., of Ellicott City; and Angie Eakin, M.D., of Bethesda. Twenty-six Maryland physicians signed a letter of support. Two faculty members and a representative from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine were present to testify in opposition to the bill. Several delegates appeared to respond favorably to the bill, including Delegates Karen Lewis Young, Terri L. Hill, Bonnie L. Cullison, and Dan K. Morhaim, who all questioned why Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has not yet removed live animal labs from its curriculum, when 99 percent of other medical schools have. To watch a video recording of the hearing, follow this link (discussion begins at 2:03:00).

Highlights from the Hearing

Comments from the Physician Panel

“My alma mater, Johns Hopkins, has always been a leader in medical training, with the exception of this single area—introductory surgical instruction,” said Martin Wasserman, M.D., J.D., F.A.A.P. “Maryland should adopt this legislation before Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is the only U.S. medical school still using animals to teach students.”

“Using live pigs to teach medical students about how the human body works is unnecessary and outdated. Surgical skills can be taught using modern simulators which are currently used at 99 percent of medical schools in the U.S. and Canada,” said Richard Bruno, M.D.

“Every one of the 44 U.S. medical schools that has opened since 1979 has designed a curriculum completely free of animal use,” said physician Angie Eakin, M.D.

Comments from Johns Hopkins University Faculty

“This is not in replacement for their clinical; this is in addition to,” said Nancy Hueppchen, M.D., Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “…This is an experience that allows students to have a deeper responsibility for a patient in the operating room or critical care setting that they wouldn’t otherwise get.”

“We believe that there is added educational value to the use of live animals in this surgical laboratory. I cannot comment on the decisions or the beliefs of the other medical schools who have elected to stop using this,” said Henry Fessler, M.D., Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

To see a full copy of the transcript from the hearing, go to http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/HGO-Committee-Hearing.pdf