Physicians group protests live animal use in medical training

Animal rights activists and doctors protest the use of live animals in emergency medical training outside Rhode Island Hospital on April 24, 2019. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

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By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A Washington D.C. – based physicians group waged a protest outside Rhode Island Hospital Wednesday, calling for an end to the use of live animals in joint training with Brown University of emergency medicine residents, saying simulators are just as effective.

“The skill acquisition and skill retention is just as good if not better with the simulators than with the live animals,” said Dr. Kerry Foley, a retired emergency medical physician with the group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

“They have a state of the art simulator center here that they can be teaching all these procedures,” Foley said. “Oftentimes its just that “it’s the way we’ve always done it, and we continue to do it because of that’.”

Dr. Foley said that most emergency medical training programs have moved to using simulators in place of live animals, adding that some research in the use of simulators was conducted at Rhode Island Hospital.

Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital issued a joint statement saying that they “are committed to ensuring the highest ethical standards in the responsible use of animals” in training, in accordance with federal regulations and accreditation standards.

The statement goes on: “Brown EM (emergency medicine) trains resident physicians using synthetic models and high-fidelity mannequins for a variety of procedures, and regularly reviews available technology. Yet, equally effective synthetic model alternatives simply do not exist for every complex medical procedure that an emergency physician must be prepared to perform.”

“What they really need to share is compassion,” said Dennis Tabella, co-founder of the Cranston-based Defenders of Animals. “Because, if Harvard can do it and Dartmouth can do it and Yale can do it then Rhode Island Hospital can do it and so can Brown University.”

A bill pending in the General Assembly would bar the use of live animals in medical training.



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