WASHINGTON, D.C.—With confirmation that Laval University of Québec City, Canada, has ended the use of live piglets in its training of pediatrics residents, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—the nonprofit representing more than 12,000 physicians—announces that no surveyed pediatrics residency programs in the United States or Canada use live animals for procedural training. Across these North American countries, 227 pediatrics residency programs use only nonanimal, human-relevant methods, such as purpose-designed medical simulators.
On June 19, the director of Laval’s pediatrics department, Marc-Andre Dugas, M.D., confirmed in an e-mail to John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs with the Physicians Committee, that the use of piglets has ended in the Laval PedALS+ protocol and that no animals are used for training the residents, with medical simulation replacing live animal use.
Previously, the Physicians Committee took several actions to encourage the switch to nonanimal training methods at Laval, including installing billboards, petitioning Québec’s government, alerting the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), and providing references and updates to Laval.
“Pediatric patients deserve doctors who have had the opportunity to hone their skills by training with human-relevant methods” says Dr. Pippin. “The Physicians Committee is proud of the part it has played in promoting the use of nonanimal training methods for pediatrics residencies across the United States and Canada.”
Historically, pediatrics residents at various institutions used live cats, ferrets, piglets, or other animals to practice a variety of invasive procedures, most commonly endotracheal intubation, which can cause tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, severe pain, and even death. At Laval, pediatrics residents were instructed to insert a needle into the sac surrounding a piglet’s heart, surgically open a vein, and to make incisions in the animal’s chest and throat to insert tubes. The piglets were killed before the final procedure was performed.
The elimination of animals for pediatrics residency training has been facilitated by the advent of interactive and programmable simulators that replicate human anatomy. These lifelike simulators are considered superior to animal-based methods because they are modeled after the human body and allow for repeated practice. The U.S. Department of Defense ended the use of live animals in pediatrics residency courses as of Jan. 1, 2015.
To speak with Dr. John Pippin, please contact Reina Pohl at RPohl@PCRM.org or 202-527-7326.
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.