Scott Reuben notches 25th retraction, for a letter to the editor

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.08.26 AMAnother domino has fallen for the infamous and prolific former anesthesiologist Scott Reuben. This time it’s a retraction for a letter to the editor that cites one of his since-retracted papers.

The letter, published in 2001, argues that local anesthesia is a “safe, reliable, inexpensive, and practical alternative to the use of epidural, spinal, or general anesthesia” for outpatient knee surgery. But to support his point, he uses one of his papers that has since been retracted for data fabrication.

The note from Anesthesia & Analgesia explains:

The Letter to the Editor by Scott Reuben, “Ambulatory Anesthesia for Knee Arthroscopy,” that appeared on page 556 in the February 2001 issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia is being retracted. The Letter to the Editor references a manuscript by Reuben and Connelly to support the claim that “the use of intraarticular analgesics provides for improved patient comfort and allows us to avoid the administration of opioids in the preoperative period.” The manuscript by Reuben and Connelly has been retracted for data fabrication. Therefore, the subsequent Letter to the Editor by Reuben relying on these fabricated data is hereby retracted.

The faulty paper, “Postarthroscopic meniscus repair analgesia with intraarticular ketorolac or morphine,” was retracted in 2009.

Steven Shafer, the editor in chief of the journal (and a member of the board of directors of our parent organization), initiated the retraction this summer. It’s been included in the our leaderboard count for a few months.

He told us what took so long:

We thought it WAS retracted.

It wasn’t until we asked Shafer this summer to confirm the number of Reuben retractions —  Anesthesia & Analgesia had published and retracted many of his papers — that Shafer realized someone had dropped the ball.

A 2011 editorial in Anesthesia & Analgesia titled “The Scott Reuben saga: one last retraction,” which analyzes much of the researcher’s work for accuracy, references that retraction:

A Letter to the Editor by Dr. Reuben referenced a previously retracted article by Reuben and Connelly. It is therefore retracted.

Shafer told us the publisher was

supposed to retract it, based on the editorial. I’m surprised, and disappointed, that they didn’t follow through.

That editorial ends:

As for Anesthesia & Analgesia, we hope that the Scott Reuben saga has come to an end.

But often, retractions aren’t the end of the story: As we learned this summer, many of Reuben’s retracted papers have continued to be cited years after they’ve been pulled from the scientific record.

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