Poldermans update: Magazine cites lack of informed consent, bogus patient surveys, invented data and more
Larry Husten at CardioBrief has an update on the case of Don Poldermans, a leading Dutch cardiologist who was accused of various iterations of research misconduct. Poldermans was fired last November by Erasmus Medical Center, where he had been head of perioperative cardiac care before the scandal.
According to Husten, Jeroen Bax, another prominent Dutch cardiologist with strong ties to Poldermans, has been cleared of wrongdoing by his institution, Leiden University Medical Centre:
LUMC has now completed its investigation and concluded that no “scientists at the Leiden University Medical Centre [were] involved in the violation of academic integrity by” Poldermans. However, the investigation also expressed concern about the large number of papers co-authored with Poldermans by LUMC scientists.
Husten also notes that the magazine, Medisch Contact, has a major piece on Poldermans, which will make fun reading for those who can read Dutch. Husten seems to have found a translator, and here’s his summary of the report:
Poldermans believes that the ongoing investigations will largely clear him of any additional or greater wrongdoing, but that he does not expect that his reputation will ever recover. “No one can come unscathed from such a nightmare,” he said.
The article outlines the rise and fall of Poldermans career, focusing especially on Poldermans’ close working relationship with Jeroen Bax and another Erasmus MC scientist, the biomedical statistician Eric Boersma. The three worked together on the original DECREASE study and on subsequent DECREASE studies. It was the conduct of these studies that formed the basis for the subsequent scandal.
In 2004 Poldermans was appointed a professor of perioperative cardiovascular care at Erasmus, the first such multi-disciplinary position in the Netherlands. Medisch Contact notes that it was the same dean who created the chair who subsequently led the scientific misconduct investigation.
The Erasmus’ investigation
concluded that Poldermans had performed research on patients who had not given written consent and had taken blood samples without permission. “More seriously,” according to Medisch Contact, the investigation found that Poldermans invented research data, stating that he created fictitious survey forms that “can not be traced back to the data in the relevant patient records.”
A broader investigation, which will include earlier work by Poldermans, is still underway and is scheduled for completion in July, according to Rikard Juttmann, integrity coordinator of the Erasmus MC. Poldermans admits that “not in all cases we asked for written consent,” but “that’s all.” He rejects the accusation that he fabricated data.
The case has similarities to that of Joachim Boldt, the German anesthesiologist who lost his post — and nearly 90 papers — for failure to obtain appropriate IRB approval for his studies.
Anyone out there still think that’s a shortcut worth taking?