Premature delivery? Paper on rapid assay for ruptured placenta pulled for “mishandling” of tests

The other day we brought you the story (well, not quite a STORY) of a group of researchers who had to retract a paper in the Journal of Computational Chemistry because of a “computation error.” We still don’t know what that means.

That was fresh in our minds when we came across the following retraction notice in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research:

The following article from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, ‘Placental alpha-microglobulin-1 rapid immunoassay for detection of premature rupture of membranes’ by Vorapong Phupong and Vatinee Sonthirathi, published online on 9 November 2011 in Wiley Online Library (, and in Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 226–230, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor in Chief, Shiro Kozuma, and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd. The retraction has been agreed to due to inaccurate results caused by the unintentional mishandling of the tests used in the study.

The researchers, from Thailand, had reported that the test, a PAMG-1 rapid immunoassay,

had a sensitivity of 97.2%, specificity of 69%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 90.8%, negative predictive value (NPV) of 90.9% and an accuracy of 89%. In contrast, conventional combined standard methods had a sensitivity of 88.7%, specificity of 96.6%, PPV of 98.4%, NPV of 77.8%, and accuracy of 91% for the diagnosis of ROM. …

PAMG-1 immunoassay is a rapid method for the diagnosis of ROM. PAMG-1 has a higher sensitivity than conventional standard methods for the diagnosis of ROM.

What does “unintentional mishandling” of the tests mean? Were the tests stored improperly? Analyzed improperly? And, more interesting for our purposes, how would anyone have figured it out?

We’re trying to find out more, and will update with anything we learn.

Hat tip: Bob Finn

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