Veterinarian calls Pickens accusations unfounded
I am responding to the Madeline Pickens, Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine article in the March 9th edition.
Unlike Mrs. Pickens and most your readers, I successfully completed the surgery course in question (Veterinary Medicine & Surgery 6353, course grade B) along with the other surgery courses required to receive a DVM degree. I've been there, done that, and am qualified to address the accusations made.
I never saw any bones being broken, intentionally or unintentionally, during any surgery lab. There would have been a mass refusal in my class had this been required. Bone breaking never happened in student surgery.
Organ removal: The only organs "removed" were reproductive organs in surgeries commonly referred to as spays and neuters. I've seen other reports that kidneys were routinely removed during surgery labs. Whoever propagated that comment demonstrated an ignorance of gross anatomy. The position, attachment, and proximity of other organs to the kidneys make removal of this organ tedious, and is something that would not be taught at the 3rd and 4th year student level.
Student surgery lab cases are performed under the supervision of surgical faculty in the exact same way client surgeries are performed. The anesthesia, sterile preparation, procedure and recovery are done with the intent of having a live patient at the end of the procedure. My first lab consisted of suture techniques for closing skin incisions.
I was fully aware that a mistake in surgery lab could produce dire consequences. I always found these labs to be high stress events and I was extremely focused while in lab. This fact can be confirmed by my fellow class members who observed the volume of sweat on the backside of my scrub top.
Surgery is one of those activities that, past a certain point, cannot be taught via simulation. Cadaver surgery is no substitute for performing surgery on a live patient. It must be made clear that the final disposition of these animals had previously been made. These animals were to be euthanized because they were unable to be adopted-a sad commentary on pet overpopulation, but not "barbaric" or "pathetic."
I find Mrs. Pickens' comments concerning the conduct of student surgery to be wrong, absurd, slanderous to my profession, and due to their widespread circulation, obscene. I am personally and professionally offended, and take umbrage in extremis to them. Neither am I favorably disposed to those who helped propagate these erroneous, unfounded accusations.
--Thomas R. Reece, D.V.M., M.S., Tipton, Okla.