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Reducing suffering in severe procedures

Some procedures are more likely to be severe than others. Examples include some ‘models’ of diseases or conditions that cause high levels of suffering in clinical cases, or control groups in some vaccine studies.

How to reduce suffering in ‘severe’ procedures:

  • Search the literature for guidance on refining the specific procedure in question. For example, RSPCA-convened expert working groups have produced guidance on refinement of severe procedures and to date reports are available for seizures, convulsions and epilepsy, experimental allergic encephalopathy, sepsis and rheumatoid arthritis. An internet search on [animal model], [species] and [welfare] or [refinement] can be a useful starting point as well as dedicated discussion fora such as COMPMED, LAREF and VOLE (these all require membership in order to assess current and archived discussions); the NIO (Named Information Officer) within each establishment should be able to provide additional information
  • Review the animal’s lifetime experiences and identify refinements for as many potentially distressing or painful events as possible.  These can combine to result in significant reductions in severity
  • Consult other researchers, animal technologists and veterinarians with experience in the field, and relevant societies, organisations and user groups
  • Raise the issue within your establishment – ask the AWERB or AWB for a discussion or to provide advice, consult the veterinarian or the person(s) responsible for disseminating information about the 3Rs
  • Ask the regulator for advice. For example, the UK Home Office Inspectors within the Animals in Science Regulation Unit often provide advice on refinement and encourage establishments to share good practice
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