What Caught Our Attention: When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes a correction that is more than a misspelling of a name, we take a look. When NEJM publishes a 500-word correction to the data in a highly cited article, we take notice. This study tested the effects of a drug to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing heart surgery; it’s been the subject of correspondence between the authors and outside experts. The correction involved tweaks — lots of tweaks — to the text and tables, which did not change the outcomes. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction
A 2016 study in New England Journal of Medicine has received a substantial correction, which affected several aspects of the article.
Typically, an error that affects so much of a paper would undermine the results (and possibly lead to a retraction). But in this case, the revised dose calculations actually strengthened the findings, according to the first author.
The NEJM study aimed to clarify whether patients with a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis benefit from a surgical procedure to remove the thymus. About half of the patients received surgery plus the steroid prednisone, while the rest only received the steroid. The researchers found patients who received the surgery fared better.
This week, the New England Journal of Medicine issued a type of editor’s note we’ve never seen before, on a highly influential letter published nearly 40 years ago.
Above the one-paragraph letter, which reports data suggesting pain medications are not likely to cause addiction, the journal has added a note warning readers that the letter has been “heavily and uncritically cited” by sources using it to suggest opioids are not addictive.
In essence, the journal isn’t commenting on the merits of the letter — the problem is how it’s been used by others.
When authors get new data that revise a previous report, what should they do?
In the case of a 2015 lung cancer drug study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the journal published a letter to the editor with the updated findings.
Shortly after the paper was published, a pharmaceutical company released new data showing the drug wasn’t quite as effective as it had seemed. Once the authors included the new data in their analysis, they adjusted their original response rate of 59% — hailed as one of a few “encouraging results” in an NEJM editorial at the time of publication — to 45%, as they write in the letter. One of the authors told us they published the 2015 paper using less “mature” data because the drug’s benefits appeared so promising, raising questions about when to publish “exciting but still evolving data.”
After publishing a paper about neuropathy in diabetic patients last week, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) immediately corrected it after editors learned of errors and some missing disclosures within the article.
The notice explains that the sole author of the paper, “Diabetic Sensory and Motor Neuropathy,” reported incorrect doses for several medications, and received royalties for the tool to measure quality of life used in the paper. The author told us all the declarations were “discussed in detail” between him and the journal, and both parties agreed to the final decision.
The New England Journal of Medicine added a disclaimer to a recent article about the effects of funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, after a request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, saying it wanted to distance itself from the paper.
Since the paper was published in February, one author has stepped down from his position at HHSC after facing disciplinary action.
The article suggested that birth rates among a group of lower-income women increased after the state cut down on support for Planned Parenthood. It drew a significant amount of media attention — and concern from the HHSC, which asked the journal to add a disclaimer to the article soon after publication. The journal complied, but embargoed the announcement of the change until 5 p.m. eastern time today.
Here’s the disclaimer that NEJM added to the article:
The New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM) has no plans to change the wording of an article that led to allegations of breached patient confidentiality and caused a minor social media firestorm this past weekend, the journal told Retraction Watch.
TheNew England Journal of Medicine has corrected three highly cited papers to credit researchers who played a role in the work.
The papers describe a treatment in which engineered T cells fight leukemia, originally hailed as a “major advance” in the New York Times. Since the first paper appeared in 2011, co-author Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania has received more than $7 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to MIT Technology Review. But according to a newly published correction, the three NEJM papers failed to note in the acknowledgement section that an important component of the experiments was supplied by researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The correction, made 11 months after a request from co-author and Penn researcher David Porter, explains the contribution of the St Jude’s researchers:
Ben Goldacre has been a busy man. In the last six weeks, the author and medical doctor’s Compare Project has evaluated 67 clinical trials published in the top five medical journals, looking for any “switched outcomes,” meaning the authors didn’t report something they said they would, or included additional outcomes in the published paper, with no explanation for the change. The vast majority – 58 – included such discrepancies. Goldacre talked to us about how journals – New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), JAMA, The Lancet, BMJ, and Annals of Internal Medicine — have responded to this feedback.