Wow! This is massive!
From Anesthesiology News:
Scott S. Reuben, MD, of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., a pioneer in the area of multimodal analgesia, is said to have fabricated his results in at least 21, and perhaps many more, articles dating back to 1996. The confirmed articles were published in Anesthesiology, Anesthesia and Analgesia, the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia and other titles, which have retracted the papers or will soon do so, according to people familiar with the scandal (see list). The journals stressed that Dr. Reuben’s co-authors on those papers have not been accused of wrongdoing.
There is more about it in New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
My SciBlings Orac, Janet and Mike have more details, thoughts on ethics and implications.
This case is Big!
It’s big, all right – but maybe not the biggest. Harvard cardiologist John Darsee spent some 14 years, starting in the early 1980’s, systematically making up basic science and clinical data and eventually retracted some 82 papers and abstracts, including a couple in the New England Journal of Medicine that listed some of the world’s most famous cardiologists as co-authors. Probably many more of his publications (out of a lifetime total in the hundreds) were fabricated also.
People often assume that such fabrication will be uncovered by the attempted replication of results by other scientists. However, you don’t get a lab established and funded by repeating experiments others have published. It’s a lot more likely that you will assume published results are true and base some experiments on that assumption. If such experiments don’t pay off, most people would abandon the line of inquiry and try something else, rather than risking their productivity and funding repeating the original study. I think that’s why the (hopefully) rare scientist who is so spectacularly mendacious can get away with it for so long.