The Journal of Clinical Anesthesia has retracted a paper by a group of Israeli authors whose study may not have had appropriate ethical approval — or even collected the reported data.
The article, “Accidental venous and dural puncture during epidural analgesia in obese parturients (BMI > 40 kg/m2): three different body positions during insertion,” was published in 2010 by a team from Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, in Zerifin, one of the country’s largest hospitals and an affiliate of Tel Aviv University. Dural puncture is an infrequent but potentially serious complication of labor anesthesia, causing severe headaches and, in rare cases, death if untreated.
According to the retraction notice:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Robert R. Gaiser, due to the author’s inability to provide either copies of Ethical Board approvals or BMI values for each patient.
That sounds pretty bad. After all, lack of IRB approval is what ruined the career of Joachim Boldt, a German anesthesiologist who is the current unofficial record holder for most retractions from a single author.
We reached out to the authors by email a few weeks ago for comment, but have not heard back. But we did speak with Gaiser, who told us that an editor from another journal initially raised questions about the study and other work from the same group. The paper, incidentally, hasn’t been cited except by the retraction, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Gaiser, who didn’t publish any of Boldt’s papers, said he contacted the Israeli team and gave them time to provide supporting materials, but gave them a warning, too:
We told them if you blow us off, it will be retracted.
Members of the Bahar group published a very similar paper in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia in 2004. Gaiser hinted that two other journals might be forced to retract papers from the group, although we have yet to confirm that.