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  1. News Release

  2. Apr 6, 2017

Doctors Group Protests Use of Animals at North Dakota State University, Offers To Pay for Modern Training Method

FARGO—On Apr. 6, physicians Matthew Clayton and Marjorie Cramer will lead Fargo-area residents in a demonstration at North Dakota State University (NDSU) calling for an end to the use of live pigs in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training. The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit representing more than 12,000 concerned physicians—is coordinating the event. Demonstrators will carry signs and banners reading “Modernize Medical Training” and “End Animal Labs.”

WHAT: A physician-led demonstration urging NDSU to stop using live animals for ATLS training

WHO: Matthew Clayton, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S.; Marjorie Cramer, M.D., F.A.C.S.; and concerned members of the public 

WHEN: Thursday, Apr. 6, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: NDSU, 1200 University Dr. N, Fargo, ND 58102 (the intersection of 12th Avenue North and North University Drive)

Ninety-nine percent of surveyed ATLS programs in the United States and Canada (291 of 293)—including Altru Health Systems in Grand Forks and St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck—do not use animals, opting instead for human-relevant teaching methods.

However, next week at NDSU and Sanford Health, trainees are scheduled to practice procedures on live animals. This training involves cutting into pigs. Trainees are instructed to insert tubes and needles into an animal’s chest cavity, abdomen, and the sac surrounding the heart. At this point, the pig is killed, and participants make an incision in the animal’s throat to insert a breathing tube.

The American College of Surgeons, which developed ATLS courses, has stated that “wherever feasible, alternatives to the use of live animals should be developed and employed.” Simulab’s TraumaMan System—a realistic human-body simulator with lifelike skin, fat, and muscle—is used by the vast majority of ATLS programs. In addition, the Department of Defense ended animal use for ATLS training in January 2015 in favor of simulation. The Physicians Committee has offered to pay for the rental of TraumaMan in next week’s course if NDSU and Sanford will use it to replace animals. Because it has replaceable synthetic skins, TraumaMan provides the opportunity to perform surgical procedures repeatedly, allowing participants to hone their skills.

“North Dakota State University and Sanford Health have a responsibility to the course participants, to provide them with the best training available,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee director of academic affairs. “Another species simply cannot stand in for the human body; these anatomical differences are critical when you’re applying medical procedures to human patients in an emergency situation.”

For an interview with a physician, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or RPohl [at] (RPohl[at]PCRM[dot]org).

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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