The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences (U Toledo) in Ohio, US, has ended the use of live animals for training emergency medicine residents. Paramedics, emergency medicine residents, and other trainees at U Toledo, practised invasive emergency medical procedures on live pigs. But after nine years of campaigning led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) — in which complaints to the federal government and the Toledo police department were filed — this cruel treatment of animals finally ended.
At one point, the university had approved to use 125 pigs per year for this training. In 2015, doctors delivered a petition signed by 1,139 Ohio residents to Christopher J. Cooper, MD, the medical school dean, urging him to stop abusing animals for training purposes. Since 2013, when the PCRM began reaching out to U Toledo, 27 emergency medicine residencies have stopped using live animals for training. Now, 98% of surveyed programs in the United States and Canada do not use animals. Instead of live animals, human-based medical simulators and human cadavers are often used to teach emergency procedures. The simulators accurately replicate human anatomy and physiology and can include layers of lifelike skin, fat, and muscle. U Toledo has the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center that now provides an alternative to the use of animals. John Pippin, MD, FACC, director of academic affairs with PCRM, said, “the University of Toledo has done the right thing. This sends a clear message that human-relevant methods provide the best training experience and appropriately prepare doctors to treat human patients.”