At the University of Toledo (UT), emergency medicine residents are taught procedural skills using live animals. Despite the widespread availability and implementation of nonanimal methods, emergency medicine training at UT involves making incisions into a pig’s throat to insert a breathing tube, inserting needles into the chest and bones, and splitting the breastbone in order to access the heart. At the end of each session, the animals are killed. The university uses 125 pigs per year in its Emergency Skills laboratory to train residents and various emergency personnel. Please join our effort to put an end to this substandard practice by e-mailing the dean of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Christopher J. Cooper, M.D., and vice president for research William Messer Jr., Ph.D.
This animal use is at odds with current standards of practice in the United States. Eighty-six percent of surveyed emergency medicine residencies (116 of 134) in the United States use nonanimal training methods such as human-based medical simulation, cadavers, and task trainers. UT even admits in its animal use protocol that studies “concluded that the humane methods were adequate to achieve the desired skills.” Purpose-designed trainers allow each student to repeat procedures, hone skills, and learn at their own pace, without harming animals. The university already has a state-of-the-art simulation center—the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center—that could provide the resources and simulation capabilities to replace the use of animals.
Even with the availability of validated human-relevant nonanimal methods, UT continues the practice of using live animals to train students. Please take action and ask the school to end this educationally inferior and inhumane practice by making the switch to simulation—because Toledo deserves better.