Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ask the Department of Defense to End Live Animal Use in Medical Student Courses

Ferrets are being used to teach future pediatricians to intubate infants by the DOD. An intubation lab using live ferrets offered to third-year medical students (also offered at Wilford Hall). Ferrets can suffer fatal injuries during these labs.

A DOD directive renewed in 2005 mandates that non-animal alternatives be used if they exist. There are non-animal teaching methods that achieve the educational goals for all five animal labs mentioned above. Many of these alternatives are currently in use at the National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art simulation center operated by USUHS.

PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Please help end the use of live animals for medical student training at U.S. military facilities. Live animals are used in medical student courses at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Md., and Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. They may also be used at other military facilities. PCRM filed a petition for enforcement with the Department of Defense (DOD) on July 2, 2008, asking for an end to this animal use.

Please call, e-mail, fax, or write a letter to USUHS president Charles L. Rice, M.D., and the dean of the medical school Larry W. Laughlin, M.D., Ph.D., and politely ask them to end the school’s live animal lab program. Being polite is the most effective way to help these animals. Send an automatic e-mail>

Med School Is Asked to Stop Animal Use

The U.S. military's medical school in Bethesda is drawing criticism from a coalition of physicians and military officers for using live animals in some medical procedures, such as surgeries, a practice many medical schools have long abandoned.

Students and faculty at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences insert breathing tubes in live ferrets to practice intubation of human infants, and they perform surgeries on live pigs, according to a petition for enforcement to be filed today with the Department of Defense.

The petition alleges that the military's use of animals in medical classes "inherently and unavoidably causes pain, distress, and suffering to those animals."

Group says no more animals at military med school

SAN ANTONIO — A nonprofit group on Wednesday petitioned the head of the Army to end the use of live pigs and ferrets for surgical teaching and other instruction at the nation's military medical school, a practice the group says violates military regulations.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine petitioned Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, who is charged with implementation of the Defense Department regulation on use of laboratory animals, to end the use of live animals at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

USUHS is a medical school that graduates about 160 military and public health doctors per year. Currently, live animals are used for surgical and other instruction in San Antonio and at the school's main site in Bethesda, Md.

A military regulation, last updated in 2005, dictates that alternative methods to the use of animals be considered and used if they produce scientifically valid or equivalent results.

Dr. John Pippin, PCRM's senior medical and research adviser, said pigs are being used for surgical instruction and ferrets are being used to teach future pediatricians to intubate infants.

Such uses for live animals are no longer necessary because simulators offer equal or better instruction, he said. Only eight of the nation's 126 medical schools still use live animals, a practice that has been increasingly phased out with the growth in high-tech alternatives, he said.

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