CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.— Following the launch of the Physicians Committee’s campaign, UTCOM Chattanooga has modernized its graduate medical education training by ceasing the use of live pigs in its emergency medicine residency program. Residents were participating in pig labs described in a surgical skills laboratory protocol, as well as in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses included in that same protocol. The Physicians Committee, a nonprofit representing more than 12,000 concerned doctors, applauds UTCOM Chattanooga for making the switch to human-relevant training methods for its emergency medicine residents.
E-mails obtained by the Physicians Committee show that on Aug. 9, 2016, Robert C. Fore, Ed.D., F.A.C.E.H.P., C.H.C.P., the interim dean at UTCOM Chattanooga at the time, was concerned about public opinion of the university’s animal use, writing, “Discovering that we are still using animals, even though in GME [graduate medical education], will be very damaging to the College of Medicine and our credibility.”
Another e-mail shows that a complaint filed by the Physicians Committee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Sept. 26, 2017, prompted a discussion between UTCOM Chattanooga Dean R. Bruce Shack, M.D., and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, M.D.
The controversial training at UTCOM Chattanooga involved cutting into live pigs to practice emergency procedural skills. After each training session, the surviving animals were killed.
“The University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga has made the right call,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee director of academic affairs. “Providing modern, human-based training methods will better equip UTCOM’s trainees to provide the quality of medical care that patients deserve.”
UTCOM Chattanooga has a state-of-the-art facility—the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center—with the resources to conduct these types of training.
In the state of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University continues to use live animals in its emergency medicine residency program. Currently, 94 percent (209 of 223) of surveyed emergency medicine residency programs across the United States and Canada and 99 percent of ATLS courses do not use animals for training, using only human-relevant training methods instead. The American Heart Association, which accredits PALS courses, has said that it “does not endorse the use of live animals for PALS training.”
To speak with 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.