Leave Live Animals out of Pediatric Training; Health Education; St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington U. Should Stop Using Cats and Ferrets for Course That Teaches Intubation of Babies; OTHER VIEWS

Article excerpt

Next week, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis will hold a course called Pediatric Advanced Life Support in which trainees are supposed to learn pediatric intubation - inserting a tube into the windpipe of baby to assist breathing - by repeatedly forcing a hard plastic tube down cats' throats. This painful and inferior procedure continues to be conducted on animals several times a year even though more humane and effective infant simulators are the standard across the country for this training.

I am a paramedic, a flight nurse, and president of the largest medical training facility in Southern California. I am also one of the original developers of the PALS course. For three years, I have participated in an effort to urge the Children's Hospital and the university to modernize their PALS curricula - including traveling to St. Louis from California at my own expense to protest - but I have long opposed the use of animals for this training in general because the procedure is cruel and unnecessary. You don't have to take my word for it. The American Heart Association, which creates the curriculum for the PALS course, has clearly stated that it, "does not require or endorse the use of animals in PALS courses" and that "the AHA recommends that any hands-on intubation training for the AHA PALS course be performed on lifelike human manikins."

Repeated intubation can cause bleeding, swelling and scarring in the mouths and throats of animals and even lead to more serious injuries such as collapsed lungs and death. Further, as a training tool, animals are not helpful because they possess drastically different anatomy from that of human infants, which can mislead course participants and give them a false sense of confidence in their skills. In my own experience I have found that using cats is often a distraction for course participants who are emotionally troubled by harming animals as well.

As I have described at medical conferences and in academic journals, such as the Journal of Emergency Nursing, studies show that people trained on simulators that mimic human anatomy are better at intubating babies than people trained using animals. …