Reuters removes story on gender confirmation surgery because firm mistakenly released data

Reuters has removed a story about gender confirmation surgery, saying it included problematic data.

The public relations firm representing the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) — which generated the data in the report  — took responsibility, saying it supplied Reuters with data the ASPS did not want released.

Yesterday, Reuters pulled its version of a widely-reported story about an increase in such surgeries in the U.S. (Later, it pulled the withdrawal notice as well, only to make it reappear at a different URL.)

The story, originally posted just after midnight yesterday, reported a 19 percent increase in those procedures from 2015 to 2016, based on data provided the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Around 1 pm US Eastern time that day, Reuters put up a withdrawal notice in place of the original story:

The story headlined “U.S. gender confirmation surgery up 19 pct in 2016, doctors say” published at 0917 New York time Monday May 22 (1317 GMT) is withdrawn as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons which provided the data cannot vouch for the data which the Society originally supplied. No replacement story will be issued.

A spokesperson for Reuters explained further:

Reuters was provided with data by ASPS that was not included in their press release. We were later informed this data was provided in error and the ASPS could not vouch for it, so we withdrew our story.

A spokesperson for Mediasource, the public relations partner for ASPS, told us the data in the ASPS press release about the report are accurate, but Mediasource sent Reuters additional data that ASPS did not want disseminated because it was not statistically valid:

As soon as we realized it had happened, we contacted Reuters. We really regret that it happened.

At the time of this posting, is still running the Reuters wire story with an editor’s note:

Reuters has withdrawn this story because of questions surrounding the data supplied by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

The statistics came from what the society billed as the first-ever report on yearly trends in gender confirmation surgeries in the U.S.

[Disclosure: One of our co-founders, Ivan Oransky, is former executive of Reuters Health, which was not directly involved in the Reuters story discussed here.]

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