Hands up! Carpal tunnel expert loses 12th paper for misconduct

via Pixabay

You can no longer count on two hands the number of retractions tallied by  Young Hak Roh, an orthopedic surgeon at Ewha Womans University in Korea found guilty of “intentional, repetitive, and serious misconduct.”

The hand specialist has notched his 12th retraction in the wake of the institutional investigation, which, as we reported in July, found sweeping violations by Roh of: 

provisions in the Bioethics and Safety Act concerning human subjects in research projects and had also committed material and consistent default in the following matters: research approval procedures; period of validity; consent of research subjects; changes in the content of the research plan and consent letter, the number of research subjects and the co-researchers; submission of the interim report, as well as the termination report after obtaining approval for the termination of research, pursuant to the Standard Operation Procedure of the Institutional Review Board under Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital; and that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval had not been properly obtained for the articles listed below.

Those articles were seven papers in the  Journal of Hand Surgery (European Volume), which had been published between 2016 and 2019. Roh also lost a 2017 paper in The Bone & Joint Journal.

Among the latest retractions are three papers in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. The oldest of these, “To what degree do pain-coping strategies affect joint stiffness and functional outcomes in patients with hand fractures?” appeared in 2015. The retraction notice states: 

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research® was made aware of concerns about the integrity of the institutional review board (IRB) approval process in the article “To What Degree Do Pain-coping Strategies Affect Joint Stiffness and Functional Outcomes in Patients with Hand Fractures?” [1]. Following that notification, CORR’s Editor-in-Chief inquired of the institution and the corresponding author; after receiving no reply initially, he re-sent his inquiry to all co-authors, at which point he did receive a response from the corresponding author who indicated he was replying on behalf of the group.

This inquiry resulted in serious concerns about whether the IRB approval document submitted with this manuscript was improperly modified by the authors, and CORR was not able to determine whether the work as performed and published was conducted with proper institutional ethical approval and oversight.

Accordingly, this article has been retracted by agreement of the authors and the Editor-in-Chief.

Two other papers, from 2018, carry the same notice. They are “Patients with limited health literacy have similar preferences but different perceptions in surgical decision-making for carpal tunnel release,” and “Preoperative pain sensitization is associated with postoperative pillar pain after open carpal tunnel release.”

Meanwhile, the journal also has issued expressions of concern for two 2018 commentaries that cited the now-retracted papers. 

One was titled “CORR Insights: Preoperative pain sensitization is associated with postoperative pillar pain after open carpal tunnel release.” According to the EoC

The Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research® is issuing an expression of concern in relation to the paper, “CORR Insights®: Preoperative Pain Sensitization Is Associated With Postoperative Pillar Pain After Open Carpal Tunnel Release” [3], because this CORR Insights® comments on a paper that since has been retracted: “Preoperative Pain Sensitization Is Associated With Postoperative Pillar Pain After Open Carpal Tunnel Release” by Roh and colleagues [1].

The CORR Insights® commentary mentions the original study [1] in a direct way in the first, second, and final paragraphs of the Where Are We Now? section. Only the final paragraph, which notes that the paper “adds to the body of research on patient-related factors that impact recovery by using the Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire as a proxy for potential hypersensivity to explain differential surgical outcomes after carpal tunnel release” [3], is no longer accurate since the paper is now retracted.

The Editor-in-Chief emphasizes that the CORR Insights® commentary [3] was solicited, submitted, edited, and published prior to the retraction of the source paper [1]. But because that paper has been retracted [2], the Editor-in-Chief of CORR feels it is important to issue an expression of concern so that readers of the CORR Insights® commentary are aware of the retraction. The author of the CORR Insights® commentary, Dr. Ana-Maria Vranceanu has not erred in any way in this process.

The second EoC, for “CORR Insights®: Patients with limited health literacy have similar preferences but different perceptions in shared decision-making for carpal tunnel release,” is similar. 

Roh also has a “Withdrawal” for an August 2019 article in Injury titled “Internal fixation of unstable radial head fracture: A comparison of metallic and biodegradable implants.” Per the uninformative notice: 

This article has been withdrawn at the request of the author(s) and/or editor. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Roh did not respond to a request for comment.

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