Top Military Journal Prints Its First Critiques Slamming Fatal Trauma Drills on Animals

PETA and Former Commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Argue for Switch to More Effective, Ethical, and Economical Human Simulators

For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2018

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

Military Medicine, the official international journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), has opened up a contentious debate on the use of animals in combat-medic training by printing a first-of-its-kind critique co-authored by PETA and retired Rear Adm. Marion J. Balsam, a former commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. The critique is a response to a study by Michael Kim et al. that defended animal use. During this training for military medical personnel who will be deployed, live animals are shot, stabbed, dismembered, and killed.

PETA and Balsam’s critique, available here, makes the point that military leaders should end the use of animals in trauma training drills—in part because the U.S. Coast Guard has ended its use of animals and the U.S. Defense Health Agency has described this use of animals as “outdated and cost-prohibitive.”

“[T]he evidence clearly favors the equivalency or superiority of [human patient simulation (HPS)] compared to [wounding animals],” wrote Balsam and PETA Senior Laboratory Methods Specialist Shalin Gala. “[W]e hope military leaders will continue to phase out LTT and transition entirely to HPS training methods.”

PETA and Balsam’s critique notes four major methodological problems with the trauma training study by Kim et al. printed in Military Medicine:

  • The authors developed a misleading statistic of live tissue training favorability based on an inadequate subgroup sample size of only seven individuals.
  • They failed to cite a U.S. Navy study that found that simulation-based training was “rated [by study participants] as more beneficial than live tissue training for the development of advanced corpsman skills.”
  • They attributed validity to reports of heightened realism and stress by study participants during trauma training on animals, even though this isn’t substantiated by quantitative data from a different study that looked at this issue.
  • They cited a 2011 study on trauma training without acknowledging that the author of that report later concluded that human-patient simulators can and should replace animal use in trauma drills.

PETA notes that the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act (H.R. 1243), which has bipartisan support from 144 congressional cosponsors, would phase out live tissue training and replace it with more effective simulation models.

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