Could you tolerate the medical training practice of innocent cats repeatedly having a tube inserted into their windpipes? The University of Virginia says it is vital to their pediatric residency program. Iconic game show host and animal activist Bob Barker calls it cruel.
Bob Barker is once again speaking up for victimized animals. He has teamed up with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine asking the University of Virginia to stop using three cats as part of their intubation training technique for medical students.
PCRM and Barker argue that high-tech simulators should be used for training instead of live felines.
“I’m very concerned about the pain and suffering these animals experience – and I’m also worried that pediatrics residents are being short-changed on their education,” Barker wrote in a recent letter to University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan.
University spokesperson Carol Wood, said the school’s doctors follow developing technology very closely and have not found a simulator that “does as good a job educating people as the three cats the university uses. “The cats are vital to saving the lives of sick infants.”
Medical school Dean Dr. Steven T. DeKosky stated the university bases its policies on what is best for patients, not “in response to a public relations campaign.”
PCRM’s Dr. John J. Pippin calls the university’s argument to use live cats “nonsense.” He pointed out that most medical schools have switched to using simulators for intubation practice and consider the use of cats as “obsolete.”
Here is what Barker had to say about the intubation procedure:
“As a proud supporter of the University of Virginia, I am writing to ask you to end your university’s use of live cats for teaching future pediatricians. This outdated and inhumane use of animals can easily be replaced with high-tech simulators based on human anatomy.”
“When teaching endotracheal intubation, UVA instructs residents to force a plastic tube through the mouth and into the trachea of live cats. This painful procedure can cause bleeding and bruising. And the cats don’t just go through this once—they are subjected to it over and over.”
“Practicing on cats is not the best way to learn how to perform this critical procedure on newborn babies. That’s why 94 percent of pediatrics residency programs have replaced animal use with more effective nonanimal methods.”
PCRM has been critical of the University of Virginia’s medical training before, but there may be more hope for change with Bob Barker’s help. Barker supported the university with a $1 million donation in 2009 to start an animal law program.
Take Action: Please sign the petition – “University of Virginia Stop Using Live Cats To Train Medical Students”
Photo from bfishadow via flickr.