A highly influential Massachusetts anaesthesiologist may have fabricated results in at least 21 published studies, according to officials at Baystate Medical Centre in Springfield.
Dr Scott S. Reuben has published dozens of studies on the use of more than one type of drug to relieve post-surgical pain and speed recovery. This method, multimodal analgesia, is an important and emerging field of anaesthesiology, the Boston Globe reported.
Last year, hospital officials launched an investigation of Reuben's work and identified 21 published papers over 13 years in which all or some of the data were fabricated. In many cases, "there was no clinical trial, because there were no patients", said Dr Hal Jenson, Baystate's chief academic officer.
Several medical journals were notified about the investigation results, and they are in the process of retracting Reuben's papers, Jenson told the Globe.
Implications if allegations true
If proven true, this may be among the largest and longest-running medical fraud cases, according to experts.
"This would be the largest research fraud in anaesthesia," said Dr Steven Shafer, editor of the journal Anaesthesia & Analgesia.
"Doctors have been using [his] findings very widely. His findings had a huge impact on the field. The act of fabricating data is so difficult for me to comprehend. It's beyond my ability to imagine," Shafer said. – (HealthDay News, March 2009)
Research misconduct common