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  1. News Release

  2. Aug 14, 2023

Doctors Protest St. Elizabeth Hospital, Urge Animal-Free Medical Training

As Group Gathered on Site, Mobile Billboards Circled Medical Center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit of more than 17,000 doctor members, is calling on St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital to stop using animals in surgery training. Thursday morning, doctors and locals gathered in a unified show of support for ending the practice. In addition to holding a demonstration to voice their concerns, the medical ethics and best practices group ran eye-catching mobile billboards that circled the medical center. They read: “St. Elizabeth Hospital: Stop Killing Animals to Teach Human Medicine. Patients Deserve Better.”

The “Surgical Training and Experimental Surgery” lab is held at Northeast Ohio Medical University’s (NEOMED) main campus in Rootstown in partnership with a surgeon from St. Elizabeth. As part of the training, surgery residents cut into live pigs and perform invasive procedures as part of their training, even though 80% of surveyed U.S. surgery residencies (210 of 264) do not use animals. Trainees practice more than 29 procedures, including cutting into the necks, chests, and abdomens of live pigs to insert surgical tools or perform procedures on the animal’s internal organs. The pigs are killed following the training session.

At least 13 other surgery programs in Ohio—including Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and NEOMED-affiliated surgery programs at Akron General Hospital and Summa Health—use only human-relevant, nonanimal methods for training. Simulators mimic human anatomy, including lifelike skin, muscle, fat, and blood vessels. The devices can also bleed and provide lifelike physiological responses. Numerous comparative studies have documented the equivalence or superiority of nonanimal training that replicates human anatomy and emergency conditions.

“Hundreds of surgery residencies have never used animals or have replaced them with simulation and human cadavers,” says Jacob Dijkstra, MD, of Cleveland. “When the best surgery programs in the country train using human-relevant methods, St. Elizabeth and NEOMED should take heed.”  

To see the billboard artwork or routes, 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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