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A Cruel and Outdated Way to Study Medicine

Thursday, July 10, 2008

As a physician and medical educator, I don't understand why the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences continues to spend taxpayers' money on live-animal labs when humane alternatives are readily available ["Med School Is Asked to Stop Animal Use," Metro, July 2]. Cutting into live, anesthetized animals is not a sensible way to teach the basics of human surgery, human anatomy or any other human subject.

I learned the skill of laparoscopy on humans without ever harming animals.

When I was in medical school, my research project required performing laparoscopic surgery on live rabbits. It became apparent to me that a number of the rabbits were able to feel pain, despite the use of anesthesia. I immediately withdrew from that project and successfully completed my training using ethical alternatives to the rabbit surgery.

Now that computerized anatomical models and human-patient simulators are in wide use, U.S. medical schools are producing more competent physicians and surgeons than ever. These teaching tools are superior because they focus on human -- not animal -- anatomy. It is unconscionable for the military -- or any other institution -- to continue using cruel and outdated teaching methods. Students can learn medicine without ever harming people or animals.

SAMUEL L. JACOBS

Camden, N.J.

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