Anaesthetists at forefront of uncovering scientific fraudsters

An international collaboration of anaesthetists is leading the charge against scientific research fraud which, if not detected, may affect patient care.  

Details of the project are being presented by visiting British cardiothoracic anaesthetist Dr Andrew Klein of Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) annual scientific meeting in Brisbane on Monday May 15.
The group of fraud ‘’detectives’’, which includes anaesthetists from the UK, Australia, Canada, the US, Europe and Hong Kong, have joined forces to weed out fraudulent research papers being submitted to some of the world’s leading scientific journals.
Dr Andrew Klein, who is editor-in-chief, of Anaesthesia, the Journal of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, said fraudsters had no place in scientific research.
‘’It’s important that we take the lead on detecting scientific research fraud. Scientists and medical specialists want to get on with their profession and unfortunately it’s tempting for some to exaggerate or make things up to get on in their profession,’’ Dr Klein said.
‘’We’re doing our best to clean up the record. If there’s bad science out there patients may suffer as a result. There’s no place for incorrect science.’’
Dr Klein said there had been instances where patient care had suffered because of research fraud.
‘’In recent years, there have been several examples of overt scientific misconduct including plagiarism, data fabrication and image manipulation and the veracity of the scientific record has been tarnished,’’ Dr Klein said.
’’Scientific misconduct is not new and neither is there any evidence that it is on the increase. But what we can do is take action to better detect and prevent scientific fraud.’’
Dr Klein said the international project was determined to detect and prevent scientific fraud in all scientific journals.
A statistical analysis computer program developed by British anaesthetist Dr John Carlisle is being used to help detect potentially fraudulent data from randomised clinical trials papers that are submitted to scientific journals.
The most high profile scientific fraud case in recent years involved a Japanese researcher in anaesthesiology, Yoshitaka Fujii, who, was sacked in 2012 after he was found to have fabricated data in nearly 190 scientific papers.
Dr Klein said Anaesthesia was the first journal to screen all research data papers using the random trial statistical analysis approach.
‘’Starting this year we’re the  first journal in the world to screen every article using the Carlisle Method that is submitted to us for data fraud and we hope many others will follow suit,’’ he explained.
According to Dr Klein, a new analysis by Dr Carlisle of 5000 scientific research papers submitted to eight international scientific journals over the last ten years has uncovered nearly 100 studies that require further investigation.
Six of the journals are anaesthetic journals and two are general medical journals. The research articles cover a diverse range of topics including anaesthesia, respiratory advances and techniques, general medicine and surgery.
Dr Klein stressed that it was likely that some of the research trial studies detected by Dr Carlisle’s fraud detection analysis were singled out because of simple mistakes such as misplacing a decimal point.
‘’Many of them will not be fraudulent. However, the fact is that these 100 articles require further assessment to see if there are serious mistakes.’’
Dr Neville Gibbs, Chief Editor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, the journal of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, said  the journal was  ‘’very pleased to be cooperating with other anaesthesia journals in detecting fraud.’’
‘’We have already introduced many initiatives to identify and discourage fraudulent submissions, ‘’ Dr Gibbs said.
The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) is the professional organisation for about 6400 specialist anaesthetists (Fellows) and 1500 anaesthetists in training (trainees).
One of Australasia's largest specialist medical colleges, ANZCA is responsible for the training, examination and specialist accreditation of anaesthetists and pain medicine specialists and for the standards of clinical practice in Australia and New Zealand. 
For more information or to request interviews please contact ANZCA Media Manager Carolyn Jones on +61 408 259 369 or Follow us on twitter @ANZCA.

Sunday May 14, 2017
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