The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) last week filed a legal complaint against the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, claiming their college of medicine is violating the state’s animal cruelty laws by allowing live animal labs.
University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga (UTCOMC) is one of the few medical training institutions that still use live animals in such classes – human patient simulators and other high tech non animal methods are now employed by 98 percent of medical schools in America, including Vanderbilt University, Emory University and Duke University.
As part of UTCOMC’s surgery clerkship, students are required to perform surgical procedures on live anesthetized pigs. After being cut open and having their body parts removed or manipulated, the pigs are killed.
“The University of Tennessee’s Chattanooga campus is the only medical school in the state using live animals for surgical training. This inhumane practice violates Tennessee’s anticruelty statute,” states John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM senior medical and research adviser. “A pig’s anatomy is different from a person’s, and medical students at the University of Tennessee can get a better education using state-of-the-art, human-based technology.”
PCRM’s complaint, filed at Hamilton County district attorney, says:
“We believe that UTCOMC should be held criminally liable for cruelty to animals and request that you investigate and halt the live animal component of the school’s medical student curriculum as soon as possible.”
Tennessee’s animal cruelty law criminalizes conduct that ‘torture[s] [and] maim[s] animals,’ and medical training is not exempt.