Dr. Sherri Tenpenny
Posted: 03/18/11 08:39 AM ET
The press has led us to believe that the recall of a medical research paper represents a rare, media-worthy event. Case in point: the week-long blitz announcing the retraction of a single, disputed paper, published in The Lancet in 1998. By comparison, the retraction of more than 100 papers by two medical researchers didn’t even make the evening news. The enormity of that recall rattled the entire subspecialty of anesthesiology and pain management. The identification of many more recalled papers exposes the extent of scientific misconduct and the failure of peer review across the entire medical industry.
During the week of March 3, the editors of 16 international medical journals announced the retraction of “unethical” research carried out by German doctor, Joachim Boldt, a leading specialist on intravenous fluid management. Boldt has published more than 200 studies, many on a colloid product called hydroxyethyl starch, or HES.
Anesthesiologists rely on colloids to deliver nutrients to cells and to keep a patient’s blood volume high during surgery, thus avoiding the risks that can come with blood transfusions. Boldt is under investigation for allegedly forging up to 90 of his studies, thought to contain bogus, fraudulent, manipulated and/or distorted data. However, an even more serious infraction is that it appears Boldt did not have the approval of an Institutional Review Board (IRB), an ethics body required by law for all clinical research. Investigations done without the oversight of an IRB is a criminal offense.