No evidence working with live animals makes better surgeons

February 25, 2011

Regarding the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's controversial practice of using live pigs for the training of future surgeons ("Johns Hopkins under fire for using animals in doctor training," Feb. 24), a critical factor is missing from The Sun's report. While Hopkins officials assert "that the training on pigs is instrumental because it gives students the feel of live tissue," they fail to back this up with evidence. The region's premier research institution should rely upon research on the question of whether surgeons who trained with live animals end up more skilled than those whose training was limited to computer simulators and non-living tissue.

If no such research exists then an independent entity could conduct a survey designed to answer the question. If sacrificing pigs has no demonstrable benefit over the alternatives, then this practice is clearly wasteful.

David A. Vanko, Towson

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