Sometimes, a laboratory animal can experience discomfort that the researcher had not foreseen. This may vary from mild discomfort, such as a small wound, to severe discomfort, such as a major tumour or a wound becoming infected.
All persons involved in an experiment on animals must work to prevent unexpected discomfort from occurring. But if it does occur, it is vital that you react immediately in an appropriate manner.
When planning an animal experiment, take precautionary measures in advance in order to prevent avoidable discomfort. These may include:
- choosing adequate accommodation to prevent the animals from becoming aggressive or lonely
- operating under sterile conditions
- only allowing experienced personnel to perform procedures
- observing the animals regularly with a frequency that suits the animal's condition and the nature of the experiment
Preventing or reducing discomfort limits the impediment of the laboratory animal's welfare. This is vital both for the animal and for the quality of your research. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) also considers the occurrence of discomfort that could have been prevented ('avoidable discomfort') to be a serious shortcoming.
Reporting unexpected discomfort
In order to properly record any occurrences of unexpected discomfort in laboratory animals and the actions taken by all parties involved, the Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility (GDL) works with a procedure for reporting unexpected discomfort. The UMC Utrecht Brain Center has its own procedure.