87% of bugs resistant to antibiotics? Not so fast, as staph paper yanked after staff mistake

What could have been a truly scary study about drug resistant staph infections in hospitals has been retracted due to a lab error.

6.coverResearchers at a community hospital in Pittsburgh claimed that the commonly quoted 3% rate of staph that is resistant to ceftriaxone and sensitive to methicillin was drastically understated. However, an “honest error in the interpretation of a key lab test” called the findings into question.

Here’s the abstract:

Although the rate of ceftriaxone resistance in methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) is reported at approximately 3% in the literature, findings at our institution suggest it is grossly underestimated. Eighty-seven percent of MSSA isolates tested were nonsusceptible to ceftriaxone, and activity of this antibiotic could not be predicted using other β-lactams.

But here’s the notice:

“Common Occurrence of Ceftriaxone-Resistant, Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus at a Community Teaching Hospital” by Aaron J. Pickering, Rahman Hariri, Lee H. Harrison, Jane W. Marsh, Amatullah Tasneem, Henry Freedy, Laura Wilson, and Hector Bonilla. [Clin Infect Dis. (2014), doi:10.1093/cid/ciu149]. Due to an honest error in the interpretation of a key lab test by the study microbiologist, with approval of all authors cited above, the authors are retracting this article from Clinical Infectious Diseases.

We’ve reached out to the author and publisher, and will update with any new information.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

3 thoughts on “87% of bugs resistant to antibiotics? Not so fast, as staph paper yanked after staff mistake”

  1. whats a `~30 fold error among friends…Reminds me of the supposed decimal place error which led to the claim that spinach has 10 fold more iron than it actually does. If the editors or reviewers knew how discordant this result was they should have immediately asked for retest/clarification; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence etc.

  2. And what exactly is the lab error and why can the authors imply not explain the error in detail and which part of the conclusions it affects? It’s really tiring to see these over-simplified retraction notices that show no details. Was any funding received for this study? If yes, then honest funding that result in honest errors should then, vey honestly, be returned, in full, to the donor.

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