Committee urges MU School of Medicine to stop animal use in training
COLUMBIA - A physician and concerned Missouri residents gathered outside the University of Missouri Hospital to call for an end to the use of live pigs for training emergency medicine residents. They suggest a turn to human simulators instead.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Action, a nonprofit organization of more than 12,000 concerned doctors, organized the demonstration.
"Pig anatomy is not human anatomy," former surgical physician Kerry Foley said.
There are 180 emergency medicine residency programs in the United States. Sixteen of them practice using live animals, which includes the University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine.
"I graduated from Georgetown Medical School in 1982 and I did my emergency medicine residency there in 1985," Foley said. "All of my surgical training for my emergency medicine residency program was done on simulators, which in 2017 are so much more astounding then they were back in the 1980s."
She says these simulators are very sophisticated.
"There's something called TraumaMan, that is obviously the human anatomy. It's got the feel. It's much more anatomically true to what the students are going to experience in their real clinical practices," Foley said.
MU does own the Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Simulation Center.
"We use simulation training for much of our emergency medicine training," Jennifer Coffman, a Senior Strategic Communications Consultant for University of Missouri Healthcare said.
She says there are approximately six animals per year used for training.
"In the extremely rare instances when we need to train emergency medicine resident physicians on life-saving measures that are not adequately replicated through simulation, we use humane and strict protocols that are reviewed by the University’s Animal Care and Use Committee," Coffman said.
Foley said the emergency medicine program has to apply every three years for an animal use protocol.
"We're hoping that this demonstration will melt their hearts a little a bit so that they'll begin to direct their attentions to the use of the simulators that are superior," she said.
The MU School of Medicine animal use protocol is up for renewal in December.