Five members of a national physicians organization led about 30 people in a rally outside Massachusetts General Hospital today protesting the use of live animals in a training program for trauma treatment.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said it targeted Mass. General because the hospital uses live, anesthetized sheep to teach trainees how to insert tubes and needles into the animalsí chests or cut into their throats. The animals are later killed, according to the group, a nonprofit organization that advocates preventive medicine and ethical research practices.
The hospital defended its use of animals in Advanced Trauma Life Support training.
"We have long been committed to conducting all activities according to the highest standards of quality, safety and excellence," the hospital said in a statement emailed to the Globe. "This commitment includes delivering the highest quality care to laboratory animals that are used for research and education purposes. The animals are anesthetized and treated in the most humane manner possible. We take this responsibility very seriously."
Most hospitals, including Boston Medical Center, use human patient simulators to teach these skills, the physicians' group said. Ten out of 207 trauma hospitals in the United States and Canada use live animals, Dallas cardiologist Dr. John Pippin said outside Mass. General today. Mass. General has simulators but also uses sheep, the hospital confirmed.
"Since June, five programs have ended the use of animals and two more will do so as soon as they get simulators," he said. "This is disappearing from the landscape, but Mass. General is lagging behind."
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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