H.R. 1417, the BEST Practices Act Summary: A Bill to Advance Medical Treatment of Our Service Members

The Physicians Committee

Improving Military Medicine


Legislative Efforts to Replace the Use of Live Animals in Combat Trauma Training

Current Deficiencies in Military Medical Training

  • The U.S. military has made impressive strides in the development and utilization of medical training methods. Some training courses, however, still involve the use of live animals, which is outdated, suboptimal, and an inefficient expenditure of taxpayer dollars. The U.S. military can and should markedly expand its efforts to improve this training.
  • When training medical and nonmedical personnel to manage battlefield injuries, many of the U.S. military’s combat trauma training courses rely heavily on “live tissue” training, which involves the use of live pigs and goats. Compared with methods currently available to the military, the use of animals is outdated and inferior due to, among other issues, anatomical and physiological differences between species such as pigs and goats and humans.
  • Replacing the use of “live tissue” in combat trauma training courses is imperative to ensure that our troops receive the most effective training before deploying to combat zones. Ensuring that trauma education and training are most effective for treating human injuries requires phasing in a combination of high-fidelity medical simulation technology that replicates human anatomy and physiology, partial task trainers, immersive environment training, and moulage.

The National Defense Authorization Act

  • The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a law passed every year that sets policies of the Department of Defense. The FY2013 NDAA requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by March 1, 2013, on a strategy, including a detailed timeline, for replacing the use of animals with human-based methods.
  • PCRM will continue to work with Congress to hold the Department of Defense accountable in order to ensure that a transition toward human-based medical training happens as quickly as possible.
  • Read the NDAA language here.

The BEST Practices Act

  • In the 113th Congress (2013-2014) bills—both titled the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act—were introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. This legislation required:
    • A comprehensive phase-in of human-based methods for the training of the management combat trauma injuries in courses funded by the Department of Defense by Oct. 1, 2017.
    • An annual report from the Department of Defense to Congress to ensure a safe, responsible transition.