Canada has ended the lethal use of live animals for trauma training. The last two institutions in the country using animals—the University of Sherbrooke and Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal—recently moved to nonanimal methods.
Many Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs in Canada had previously involved cutting open anesthetized pigs and dogs to practice emergency medical procedures. The University of Sherbrooke was using 32 dogs a year.
Since 2009, eight Canadian ATLS programs have replaced animal use with simulators developed specifically for trauma training. Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, the University of Saskatchewan, Queen’s University, and McMaster University all used live animals until PCRM successfully lobbied the institutions to use nonanimal methods. Now all of the nearly two dozen ATLS programs in Canada use only modern training methods that better equip medical professionals to respond to trauma injuries.
“I congratulate everyone involved in reaching this win-win decision, which combines the most up-to-date, sophisticated training available and the best ethical and humane practices," says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM's director of academic affairs. "There is no justification for using live animals in such courses. Nonanimal teaching methods offer a more effective—and more humane—way to teach lifesaving procedures. Canada now leads the way in achieving the best educational and ethical standards for ATLS training.”
Only five of more than 240 ATLS programs in the United States continue to use live animals for training. This shift has been facilitated by innovations in medical simulation technology, a rising awareness of ethical concerns, and a growing acknowledgment that medical training must be human-focused.
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