When economist Jason Hockenberry looked at data comparing some of the financial issues facing different U.S. hospitals, he was surprised by what he saw.
Hockenberry was examining the effects of a recently introduced U.S. program that penalizes hospitals with relatively high rates of readmissions for certain conditions by reducing Medicare payments. Although Hockenberry expected hospitals that serve low-income and uninsured patients to have more readmissions (and therefore more penalties), he saw these so-called “safety-net hospitals” had been steadily improving their performance since the program began in 2012, and had faced fewer penalties over time.
The results were so striking, they ended up in JAMA on April 18, 2017. But within one week after publication, Hockenberry learned outside researchers had raised questions about the analysis.
The outside researchers thought the authors had incorrectly categorized some of the safety-net hospitals. After looking into their concerns, Hockenberry — based at Emory University in Atlanta — realized the analysis did contain errors that affect the findings. This week, he and his co-authors retracted the article, replacing it with a corrected version. The new paper still reports that the gap between the penalties faced by safety-net and non-safety-net hospitals is closing — but not for the reasons they initially thought.
Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.
In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.
A group of authors have withdrawn a paper after revealing a litany of issues to the journal that published it. Among those issues were “scientifically misleading errors,” “insufficient” validation, and a disagreement between the researchers on whether it should have been published at all.
The problem, said editor Keith D. Lillemoe, is that the address was delivered in April by previous ESA president Marek Krawczyk in Polish. According to an email Krawczyk sent to ESA leadership, which Lillemoe forwarded to us, Krawczyk says the pronoun “his” can include women in Polish.
Still, Lillemoe told us, the journal believed it needed to quickly retract the paper:
Longtime readers of Retraction Watch may recall a 2011 post about a research team that retracted a paper after realizing that they had ordered the wrong mice. Maureen Gannon and Raymond Pasek of Vanderbilt University contacted us earlier this week to alert us to a similar case: Their retraction, earlier this month, of a 2016 paper from American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism after discovering that “a colleague from another lab had mistakenly supplied us with the wrong transgenic mouse line.”
A patient’s “unusual” brain cyst excited several researchers in China so much they published a paper about it in a major journal. Soon a reader identified a glaring mistake: the authors had described the cause of the cyst incorrectly.
A month after the paper appeared online in November 2016, the reader — a neurologist — published a letter in the journal, pointing out the incorrect diagnosis. In their response, the authors acknowledged the mistake but said it had occurred not because they had misdiagnosed the patient, but because the diagnosis had been mistranslated from Chinese to English.
The editors of Neurology retracted the paper because of the error and published a new version with the correct diagnosis on the same day, June 6.
Although we did not hear back from the paper’s two corresponding authors—Jun Guo and Guan Sun—the journal published a string of letters that chronicles the case.
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.
A Rutgers computer scientist is retracting conference proceedings via an unusual channel: his personal blog.
On April 7, Anand Sarwate wrote that he was retracting a mathematical proof from the proceedings from the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), after discovering errors that invalidated the result.
He explains in the blog post why the mistake occurred: