At Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts, live pigs are used to teach emergency surgical skills in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses.
Trainees are instructed to make incisions and insert tubes and needles into a pig’s chest cavity, abdomen, throat, and the sac surrounding the heart. If the animals survive the invasive procedures, they are killed following the training session.
This animal use is at odds with current standards of practice. Today, 99 percent of surveyed ATLS programs in the United States and Canada (323 of 325) use only nonanimal training methods, like human-based medical simulation. These methods allow trainees to repeat procedures, hone skills, and learn at their own pace, without harming animals or patients. In fact, all eight other facilities in the state that offer ATLS courses—including Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Massachusetts—exclusively use nonanimal training methods.
For example, Simulab’s TraumaMan System—a realistic anatomical human-body simulator with lifelike skin, fat, and muscle—is used by the majority of ATLS courses and is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons, which accredits these programs. In addition, after careful review, the Department of Defense ended the use of animals for ATLS training in 2015. Baystate already owns TraumaMan, so the medical center could end animal use immediately. It even has a state-of-the-art facility—the Baystate Simulation Center and the Goldberg Surgical Skills Laboratory.
Baystate continues the substandard practice of using live pigs for trauma training despite the fact that it already owns the technology used by 99 percent of programs.
Please take action and ask officials at the medical center to end this educationally inferior and inhumane practice by making the switch to simulation—because Massachusetts deserves better.
Reina Pohl, M.P.H.
Research and Education Programs Specialist
Tell Baystate Medical Center to Stop Training on Live Pigs
Currently, 99 percent of Advanced Trauma Life Support courses train without using animals.