Patient database errors lead to three rheumatology retractions

The authors of three papers in Rheumatology International about systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma, are retracting them after patients were misidentified in databases. According to the three notices:

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. The authors made a serious statistical error which unfortunately invalidates their results.

Corresponding author Metin Isik tells Retraction Watch that the error was adding a patient with systemic sclerosis database twice, and adding another patient with polymyositis, not systemic sclerosis, to the sclerosis database. (Why the journal didn’t spell that out in the notice is anyone’s guess, but we’ve asked the editor for comment and will update with anything we hear back.)

It’s easy to see how three patients would affect the results of “Systemic sclerosis and malignancies after cyclophosphamide therapy: a single center experience,” which seems to have involved just eight patients. But less clear is why it would have forced the retraction of the other two papers, which rely on 169 patients. For example, here’s part of the original abstract of “Ten-year survival rates of methylprednisolone plus cyclophosphamide followed by mycophenolate mophetyl of azathiopurine for progressive systemic sclerosis patients:”

Our clinic has been treating these patients with methylprednisolone and cyclophosphamide followed by azathiopurine or mycophenolate mophetyl after 2 years (MPC-MMA combination) for nearly 30 years, and we wanted to present the treatment results of our patients. Systemic sclerosis patients who have applied to our rheumatology clinic from April 1981 to December 2010 were all treated with MPC-MMA combination therapy. All the data were checked, and the data of 169 patients were reached.

The clinical and laboratory features in Turkish systemic sclerosis patients: a single-center experience” involves the same 169 patients.

All three studies seem to have been published late last year. Metin says the authors will correct the figures and resubmit them.

While we’re on the subject of Rheumatology International, the journal is also retracting a paper by a brazen plagiarist whose name may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers. Journals have already retracted several papers by Bernardino Saccomanni, and now Rheumatology International will add “An evidence-based review of the most current treatment options and trends for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)” to that list. The notice:

This article has been withdrawn due to plagiarism. The original work is Ono S (2010) Optimal management of carpal tunnel syndrome. Int J Gen Med 3:255–261. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S7682.

Hat tip: Clare Francis

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