As the news of Joachim Boldt’s staggering number of retractions leaps from Retraction Watch into the mainstream press, the consortium of journal editors retracting his studies has backtracked ever so slightly, announcing today that one of the 89 studies for which the German anesthesiologist lacked ethics approval in fact had such sanction.
According to the now-16 (Updated 3/7/11, as it is up from 11 several days ago) editors, LÄK-RLP, the German body investigating the ethics component of the Boldt case:
has verified IRB approval for Boldt J, Schöllhorn T, Münchbach J, Pabsdorf M. A total balanced volume replacement strategy using a new balanced hydroxyethyl starch preparation (6% HES 130/0.42) in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2007;24:267-75. This article was moved from table 1 (articles without documented IRB approval) to table 2 (articles with documented IRB approval).
The study received funding from B. Braun, which makes the HES product in the trial. Steve Shafer, editor-in-chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia, who is the de facto leader of the journal group, told us that the mix-up came about because
LÄK-RLP didn’t match the IRB approval on file to the article in question because the title of the article was different than the title of the approved study, the investigators studied fewer patients than permitted / requested in the IRB information, and the article stated that the study had been approved by the Ethics Committee of the hospital, which does not exist. These are technicalities that are of no consequence.
The consortium released an amended list of retractions, which is available here. Officially, there are now 88, including one from October. That’s still a record, beating the apparent previous record holder, Jon Darsee, who has 82.
For those trying to keep score at home on all this, we have this word of caution: the number of retracted papers that carry Boldt’s name is staggeringly high and likely to grow — but it’s also something of a moving target day-to-day. We’ll do our best to keep on top of the changes.
There’s a separate inquiry into the integrity of his research that has not issued its findings yet.