Intubation tubes are being inserted into cats at the University of Virginia for the purpose of pediatric medicine training. I couldn’t believe this story when I came across it on the internet. THIS should fall under animal cruelty!
For those of you who don’t know, endotracheal intubation is a procedure used to secure an air path for someone unable to breath on their own.
The cats are part of the education process for students of pediatric medicine at the University of Virginia. These cats have intubation tubes stuck down their throats, sometimes 15-20 times a day. These cats are fully conscious and the same cat may be used for educational purposes for many years.
University spokesperson Carol Wood said in a letter to The Daily Progress that the University of Virginia does have these computer models and supposedly only uses the cats for training when a simulator wouldn’t be effective. One such instance in on an infant weighing under four pounds.
Dr. Alix Paget-Brown, principal investigator on the university procedure, notes that the computerized simulators don’t have working tongues to give a realistic indication on how a live subject would react during an intubation procedure. Thus, cat subjects are needed to show realistic gagging while being trained.
I really don’t want to picture this in my head. Sorry Doc. I’d also have my doubts the training using cats is only being done when absolutely necessary. I’m not there in there residency program so I can’t verify this one way or the other.
I’m sorry, University of Virginia. I just don’t understand why your residency program chooses to use live cats and kittens. Cats and kittens are NOT human infants and are not going to react as human infants would when this procedure is “practiced” on them. I wonder if any of the residency students have voiced any concerns over this issue. Like “how is tormenting a cat going to teach me to save babies?” Does the student fail the course if he/she refuses to intubate the cat?
I feel this should be classified as animal cruelty. Anyone who has had a breathing tube inserted before a test or surgical procedure can tell you of the deep sore throat pain and irritation the tubes leaves. These tubes can leave scarring, bruising, bleeding, permanent injury and long-term pain in the throat.
Roughly 95% of pediatric residency programs in the U.S. as well as Canada now use human based medical simulation. These simulators are realistic, more accurate, and most importantly, no cats or humans are injured in the name of education. Universities which include Johns Hopkins and Yale have moved on and use these computer simulators of babies. These computerized babies cry, breathe and turn blue until an intubation tube is correctly inserted. I feel confident the residents can learn how to move around a premature baby’s tongue to insert the breathing tube without having to practice on cats.
CPR classes now all use computerized dummies. To me, the idea of practicing the insertion of intubation tubes should be as realistic as possible. I can’t believe any college would think a cat makes a good test subject. What’s a resident going to do when faced with a REAL child needing the procedure? As a residency student, I’d hate to admit to anyone that I learned on a CAT. A cat is NOT a baby! The word “idiot” comes to mind. I’d hate to put the life of my child in the hands of someone who was trained using this method.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of a decline in admission applications submitted to the pediatric residency program at University of Virginia. It stands to reason a computerized baby that simulates real baby reactions would be better than “practicing” on a poor helpless cat or kitten. Just saying….
On November 17, 2011, a group filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
As recently as April 12, 2012, Charlottsville City Councilor Dave Norris joined 25 protestors on University Grounds to call for an end to this barbaric training method, calling the process “cruel and unnecessary.”
This subject is upsetting. Intubation tubes being used on cats for pediatric programs should be outlawed. Especially since a better method has shown to be superior. What do the readers here think? Am I wrong in feeling this way? I get so tired of animals being tormented in the name of science. It makes me wonder whether animal abusers think up these teaching methods.
Associated: The Professional Cat Abusers.