Ethics in Trauma Training

The Physicians Committee

Ethics in Trauma Training

The use of live animals in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses was once common. Today, however, nearly all of these courses exclusively use nonanimal training methods.

Background on ATLS

ATLS courses teach surgical skills designed to respond to acute trauma injuries. These procedures include cricothyroidotomy (an incision in the neck to relieve an obstructed airway), pericardiocentesis (removing fluid from the sac that surrounds the heart), and chest tube insertion (draining blood, fluid, or air to allow the lung to fully expand). In 2001 the American College of Surgeons (ACS), which accredits ATLS courses, endorsed the use of Simulab’s TraumaMan System simulator for teaching the courses. The ACS also previously approved the use of cadavers. But before 2001, most ATLS courses used live animals (mostly dogs, goats, and pigs) as teaching tools.

The Physicians Committee’s Survey of ATLS Programs

In 2007, the Physicians Committee began a nationwide survey of facilities that offer ATLS courses. Due to the large number of facilities in the United States and Canada, the survey is ongoing, but the results thus far have been encouraging. See the current results >

Take Action to Stop Live Animal Use in ATLS Courses

In 2008, the Physicians Committee escalated its efforts to end the use of live animals in ATLS courses. Take action >