Alleged use of live sheep at Dartmouth-Hitchcock prompts USDA inspection
LEBANON — The United States Department of Agriculture found discrepancies in protocols approved by an animal care and use committee following a federal complaint against Dartmouth-Hitchcock's alleged use of live sheep.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a federal complaint against Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for its "unlawful use of live animals in its emergency medicine training program."
According to the complaint, "the medical center uses live sheep to teach procedural skills to emergency medicine residents, despite the widespread availability and implementation of educationally superior nonanimal training methods."
A recent inspection conducted by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found that Dartmouth College's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, who would have approved the medical center's procedures, did not include in the protocol a written narrative description of the methods and sources used to determine that alternatives were not available for some of the protocols.
"Whenever a proposal for animal use contains procedures that may cause more than momentary pain or distress to the animals, the investigator is required to consider alternatives to those procedures and provide a written narrative description of the methods and sources used to determine that alternatives were not available," the inspection report read. "This requirement is important to ensure that all procedures involving animals minimize pain and distress to the animals."
The Physicians Committee claims that emergency medicine residents are cutting into live sheep to practice procedural skills. They believe the use of sheep is not unavoidable due to the widespread availability of validated simulators.
The USDA APHIS also said the one of the medical center's protocols did not contain a complete description of all of the animal use activities to be performed, including the frequency of blood collection and the study timelines, the inspection report read.
The report states that the IACUC needs to address the deficiencies found during the inspections by June 1.
Public records detailing the procedures performed on animals are unavailable since Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a private facility.
NH1 News has reached out to Dartmouth College's IACUC for comment and is awaiting a response.