Cats Get a Breather

More colleges are replacing the use of live cats in medical training courses with alternatives such as human-based simulators.

More colleges in the United States are replacing the use of live cats in medical training courses with human-based alternatives.

PawsUpPaws Up!
To Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital for deciding to stop using cats to teach medical students how to intubate infants.

According to a news story, “Washington University has stopped using live cats in a medical training course, a practice that some animal rights groups have long opposed.”

Across the United States, many medical-related courses that once used live animals as test subjects are now being taught using only human-based simulators. For instance, in over 95 percent of the Advanced Trauma Life Support classes taught in this country, non-animal models, such as the TraumaMan System and SimMan, and cadavers are being used in place of live animals. Where infant training is concerned, validated and human-based alternatives, such as Gaumard’s Premie HALL and PREMIE Blue, exist and should be used in place of live animal experimentation.

According to Dr. John Pippin, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “It’s especially inhumane and especially indefensible [to use live animals] when there are alternatives in hand which not only would spare the animals the trauma of going through this but also would provide a better educational experience.”

It’s time to do no harm in medical schools.

Take Action: Write a note of thanks to the Washington University School of Medicine and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital for deciding to spare the lives of cats. If you know of a medical school where animals are still being used to teach skills needed on humans, write to the dean and suggest he or she follow Washington University School of Medicine’s lead.

Larry J. Shapiro, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S Euclid Ave, St Louis, MO 63110

J Eric Gordon, MD, co-chief of service
Perry L Schoenecker, MD, co-chief of service
St. Louis Children’s Hospital
One Children’s Place
St. Louis, MO 63110

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