CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will no longer use live cats to teach doctors how to insert breathing tubes into bodies, following a complaint made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
In a complaint dated Jan. 24, PETA wrote to Cincinnati Children’s CEO Michael A. Fisher, asking to end the use of animals in all training courses, “in favor of more effective and humane non-animal training methods.”
PETA says Children’s Hospital has used hundreds of cats over approximately 20 years its annual pediatric flexible bronchoscopy cource postgraduate course.
Bronchoscopy is a procedure that looks inside the lungs airways. PETA said, in these training exercises, physicians inserted bronchoscope cables into cats’ mouths and down into their larynges, tracheas, and lungs.
The procedure can cause respiratory distress, pneumothorax, or cardiac arrest in the animals, PETA said.
A whistleblower told PETA that, “a cat named Biscuit who was used in this training died last year after suffering an apparent anesthesia-induced stroke-like event that impaired blood flow to the brain, leading to destruction of brain tissue.”
“We are no longer using cats in that particular training course,” said Jim Feuer, Senior Associate of media relations at Cincinnati Children’s.
PETA noted that many medical training programs do not use animals and instead use only human simulators. “There is no medical or educational need to use cats or any animals to teach these human medical procedures effectively,” said Shalin G. Gala, PETA’s vice president for international laboratory methods.
The group listed alternatives that include infant airway manikins, virtual reality technology and even a 3D printed model.
Gala also stated that Cincinnati Children’s previously ended its use of animals for teaching pediatric intubation to residents.
Dr. Robert E. Wood, a pediatric pulmonary specialist, has conducted this course using 10 to 15 cats each year at Cincinnati Children since approximately 1999 and at various other facilities since 1981, according to PETA.
Since the course’s inception, more than 2,200 physicians from more than 80 countries have each paid thousands of dollars to attend and have apparently used more than 370 cats in total for this training, PETA said.
Cincinnati Children’s sent a response on Feb. 8 from Dr. Margaret Hosteller, chairwoman of the pediatrics department. “I have discussed this matter with Dr. Wood, and he understands that he and any other physicians who may teach the pediatric flexible bronchoscopy postgraduate course in the future will no longer use animals. This prohibition has been communicated to Dr. Wood and his colleagues.”
“This is a victory for the physicians who will receive superior human-simulation training, the patients who will benefit from doctors’ improved lifesaving skills, and the animals who won’t be used in these harmful laboratory procedures,” said Gala.