CLEVELAND—Cleveland Clinic announced today that it will end its involvement with a program that used live dogs for emergency medicine resident training and took place at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). The announcement came immediately following a billboard campaign from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a national nonprofit of 12,000 physicians. The campaign, which called on NEOMED and Cleveland Clinic’s South Pointe Hospital to end the use of live dogs for medical training, spanned four sites across northeastern Ohio: Cleveland, Akron, Rootstown, and Warrensville Heights.
“Cleveland Clinic’s decision to end this use of dogs will lead to better training for its South Pointe Hospital emergency medicine residents,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “The medical training technologies available today provide the best educational experience, as they are designed to reflect the complexities of the human body and come with replaceable skins, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, and more. Furthermore, they allow residents to practice procedures more than once, allowing them to develop and strengthen their skills with repeated experience.”
Now, 90 percent of U.S. emergency medicine residency programs (157 of 175) surveyed by the Physicians Committee only use nonanimal, human-based methods, such as medical simulation, to train residents. In contrast, South Pointe used live dogs.
The Physicians Committee planned to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Aug. 24, but will no longer do so. The Animal Welfare Act’s (AWA) implementing regulations “require that a principal investigator—including course instructors—consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to any animal used for research purposes.” The complaint cited violations of the AWA and inadequate oversight of the training protocol by the university’s animal care and use committee.
Emergency medicine training at NEOMED involved cutting into live dogs to practice procedures. Trainees were instructed to make incisions into a dog’s throat and chest to insert tubes, cut into veins, and insert needles into the chest to remove fluid surrounding the heart. They also split open the breastbone in order to access the heart and perform various cardiac procedures, including a stab wound to the animal’s heart. If the dogs survived the procedures, they were killed following the training session.
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.