An increasing number of Americans are aware of the suffering farm animals in the agriculture industry endure, but many people are surprised to learn that they are also subjected to cruelty in the name of medicine. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for live animals to be used as models to teach physicians how to treat injuries and perform medical procedures – a practice that has troubled me ever since I was a medical student. These days, subjecting live animals to these procedures is not only cruel, but also virtually unnecessary due to impressive developments in medical training tools.
At some point in their medical careers, many physicians are required to complete an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course, where they learn how to perform certain procedures to treat trauma injuries. These procedures can be extremely invasive, often requiring incisions into the neck, chest or abdomen, and cause suffering when performed on live animals. Fortunately, life-like human body simulators, such as Simulab’s TraumaMan, offer effective and compassionate alternatives.
However, despite the success of new training methods that do not require the use of animals, an estimated five percent of medical centers continue to subject sentient beings to needless cruelty in their ATLS courses. Sadly, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in Pennsylvania is one of these few remaining institutions that uses live pigs as models for their trauma training. Usually, the animals are killed shortly after the procedures.
Pigs are sensitive, social animals who don’t deserve to be subjected to these cruel and unnecessary practices. As a physician who has worked to end the use of live animals in similar courses in the past, I know that proper medical training can be achieved without subjecting animals to such abuse. That’s why we’re asking you to join us in calling on UPMC officials to extend their compassion to animals and end the use of live pigs in ATLS training. Please take action today and help bring about positive change.