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Bethesda-Based Military School Ends Using Live Animals For Surgical Training

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The use of live animals for military medical training has just ended at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. Pigs and ferrets have been replaced by simulators to teach surgical skills and physiology to medical students.

Dr. Marion Balsam lives in Bethesda and was a Navy pediatrician for 25 years. She's worked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to persuade the school to stop the practice.

"They were using live animals for teaching surgery to third year medical students," says Balsam. "Ultimately they die. They often were not well enough to be anesthetized."

Balsam says simulators have become so advanced, there's no reason to continue using live animals for training anywhere.

The Washington-based Physicians Committee says just four medical schools in the United States still use live animals for medical student training. The committee will now turn their attention to ending the practice at Johns Hopkins.


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