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  1. News Release

  2. Mar 22, 2019

Doctors Object to Animal Use at Baylor College of Medicine

Emergency Medicine Residency Under Fire for Discredited Training Practice

HOUSTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is challenging Baylor College of Medicine’s use of live animals in its emergency medicine residency program. On Thursday morning, the group held a demonstration outside Baylor with Houston physician Bandana Chawla, retired emergency medicine physician Kerry Foley, and area residents. People held a banner and signs that read “Modernize Medical Training” and “End Animal Use.”

The group also surrounded the school with ads calling for an end to the animal use. Three mobile billboards circled the campus for the duration of the day. An additional mobile billboard ran from Monday to Saturday, and two stationary billboards were installed for a one-month duration. The ads feature a doctor in a white coat giving a thumbs down and read “95% of emergency medicine residencies don’t use animals. So why does Baylor? HoustonDeservesBetter.org” and “Baylor College of Medicine: Using animals to teach human medicine? HoustonDeservesBetter.org”.

At Baylor, live pigs are used for training emergency medicine residents, but 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.

According to a survey of programs in the United States and Canada, 95 percent (254 out of 267) exclude live animal use. Every other civilian emergency medicine residency in Texas uses human-relevant methods alone, including the five programs affiliated with Texas A&M or the University of Texas. Instead of animals, human-based medical simulators and human cadavers, which can be used to teach all emergency procedures, are widely used. The simulators accurately replicate human anatomy and physiology and can include layers of lifelike skin, fat, and muscle. The Baylor College of Medicine Simulation Center could provide the resources to replace the use of live animals in Baylor’s emergency medicine residency.

“I’ve been practicing medicine in Houston for 20 years, and I am shocked that Baylor College of Medicine still uses live animals to train emergency medicine doctors,” said Physicians Committee member Bandana Chawla, M.D., of Houston. “I attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed my residency at the University of Texas at Houston. I did not use animals as part of my training at either university.”

The Physicians Committee has more than 12,000 doctor members, including 571 in Texas.

To interview Drs. Chawla or Foley, 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 organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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