North Dakota State has become the target of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The group paid for billboards installed in Fargo condemning the use of live pigs in trauma training.
PCRM has been advocating for changed practices at various universities, stemming from the university and Sanford’s use of live animals in advanced trauma life support classes aimed at teaching students how to respond to acute trauma injuries.
In a statement, Kelly Rusch, vice president for research and creative activity, said, “NDSU remains committed to provide for the health and well-being of animals in our care, as well as committed to our mission as a teaching institution.”
The Grand Forks Herald reported, “NDSU and Sanford jointly teach Advanced Trauma Life Support courses that involve cutting into live, sedated pigs to practice surgical procedures, after which the pigs are killed.”
John Pippin, PCRM academic affairs director, told The Forum, “We needed the public to know what’s going on and what the alternatives are.”
Alternatives to the use of live animals in ATLS courses include “human-based medical simulators,” according to PCRM’s website.
According to PCRM’s website, the Department of Defense ended the use of animals in ATLS courses in favor of human-relevant medical simulation in 2015, although the American College of Surgeons approved the use of cadavers in ATLS courses.
A letter from PCRM to President Dean Bresciani notes this decision, the Herald reported.
PCRM’s website also includes the details of a 2013 survey conducted nationwide to compare the number of universities that use simulators rather than live animals.
According to the survey, 274 programs use non-animal models for ATLS courses while 2 use animal models.
“Appropriate protocols and federal guidelines are followed in the training that is conducted by Sanford or other medical organizations in this setting,” Rusch said.