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  1. News Release

  2. Oct 19, 2018

Baylor College of Medicine’s Lethal Animal Use Violates Federal Law

Doctors Urge Baylor to Eliminate Use of Live Animals in Medical Training

HOUSTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a national nonprofit of more than 12,000 physicians, is calling on Baylor College of Medicine to modernize its medical training methods and stop live animal use. According to a complaint that the Physicians Committee filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Oct. 18, the school’s use of live pigs to train emergency medicine residents violates federal law.

While Baylor uses live pigs for this training, 94 percent of surveyed emergency medicine residency programs (246 of 263) in the United States and Canada use only nonanimal training methods, such as medical simulators modeled on human anatomy. In fact, every other civilian emergency medicine residency in Texas exclusively uses human-relevant methods, including all five programs affiliated with either Texas A&M or the University of Texas.

“Not only is it ethically unjustifiable, using live animals to teach human medicine is simply an irresponsible, substandard practice,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Dallas physician and director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “When nearly all other programs use human-relevant training methods, it’s time to step into the 21st century and move beyond the crude practice of using animals.”

The Baylor College of Medicine Simulation Center could provide the resources to replace the use of live animals in the emergency medicine residency. Human-relevant training methods can be used to teach all emergency procedures. Simulators commonly used by other emergency medicine residencies include Simulab’s TraumaMan System—a realistic, anatomically correct human body simulator with lifelike skin, fat, and muscle—and several others. Compared with humans, pigs have smaller torsos, lighter limbs, and thicker skin. There are also important differences in the anatomy of the head and neck, internal organs, rib cage, blood vessels, and the airway.

The complaint, signed by seven Texas physicians, cites inadequate oversight of the training protocol by the university’s animal care and use committee and violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, which requires “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.”

In January 2017, the Physicians Committee filed a complaint regarding Baylor’s animal use for training paramedics from Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD). One week later, MCHD announced an end to that animal use, citing changing norms of medical education. The same principle is at work here.

For a copy of the federal complaint or to interview Dr. Pippin, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or RPohl@PCRM.org.

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, M.P.H.

202-527-7326

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.

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