At the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), emergency medicine residents and other participants are taught procedural skills using live animals. Despite the widespread availability and implementation of nonanimal methods, emergency medicine training at UTMC involves making incisions into a pig’s throat to insert a breathing tube, inserting needles into the chest and bones, and splitting open the breastbone in order to access the heart and control bleeding via sutures and staples. At the end of each session, the animals are killed. The university uses up to 125 pigs per year in its Emergency Skills laboratory to train residents and various emergency personnel.
This animal use is at odds with current standards of practice. Today, 94 percent of surveyed emergency medicine residencies (209 of 223) in the United States and Canada use only nonanimal training methods such as human-based medical simulation, cadavers, and partial task trainers. UTMC 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 $36 million state-of-the-art facility—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 methods, UTMC 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.
Reina Pohl, M.P.H.
Research and Education Program Specialist