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MeritCare Response to PCRM Complaint

Today, MeritCare was made aware that the "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" (PCRM) has filed a written complaint against MeritCare to the United States Department of Agriculture regarding the use of animals in advanced trauma life support training (ATLS). MeritCare released the following statement this evening:"MeritCare has not seen a copy of the complaint. We do use animals when teaching health care providers emergency, life-saving skills. An example is caring for a child or adult whose airway is blocked or caring for someone with a collapsed lung. Our ATLS class is lawfully conducted and adheres to all of the requirements of the American College of Surgeons, which does provide for the use of live animals."

Today, MeritCare was made aware that the "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" (PCRM) has filed a written complaint against MeritCare to the United States Department of Agriculture regarding the use of animals in advanced trauma life support training (ATLS). MeritCare released the following statement this evening:

"MeritCare has not seen a copy of the complaint. We do use animals when teaching health care providers emergency, life-saving skills. An example is caring for a child or adult whose airway is blocked or caring for someone with a collapsed lung. Our ATLS class is lawfully conducted and adheres to all of the requirements of the American College of Surgeons, which does provide for the use of live animals."

According to the PCRM news release, the group states that MeritCare is one of the last facilities in the country still using live animals. But the PCRM contradicts this on their Web site (www.pcrm.org). They state that "most trauma training courses in the U.S. still use live animals to demonstrate invasive trauma skills and test students.This statement is accurate; other top teaching hospitals in the nation use live animals in their ATLS classes.

In the news release, PCRM states that the animals are unlawfully used in trauma training. But according to the American College of Surgeons:

"The use of live, nonhuman patients in this course is in full compliance with the Federal Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131-2159)… The American College of Surgeons supports the responsible use and humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research, education and product safety testing in accordance with applicable animal welfare laws."

MeritCare offers the ATLS course five times throughout the year. Generally, there are 16 students in each class and three to four animals are used with each course. The training is offered for physicians, mid-levels, nurses and paramedics.