Flawed research puts patients at risk

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Background: Clinical research papers that are so flawed that they are eventually retracted may put patients at risk. Patient risk could arise in a retracted primary study or in any secondary study that draws ideas or inspiration from the primary study.

Methods: To determine how many patients were put at risk, we evaluated 788 retracted English-language papers published from 2000 to 2010, describing new research with humans or freshly derived human material. These primary papers-together with all secondary studies citing them-were evaluated using ISI Web of Knowledge database. 
Results: Retracted papers were cited over 5000 times, with 93% of citations being research related, suggesting that ideas promulgated in retracted papers can influence subsequent research. Over 28 000 subjects were enrolled-and 9189 patients were treated-in 180 retracted primary studies. Over 400 000 subjects were enrolled-and 70 501 patients were treated-in 851 secondary studies which cited a retracted paper. Papers retracted for fraud (n=70) treated more patients per study (p<0.01) than papers retracted for error (n=110). 
Conclusions: Many patients are put at risk by retracted studies. These are conservative estimates, as only patients enrolled in published clinical studies were tallied.
“The wider implications of study are scary and puts extra responsibility on us as researchers to get things right. Not only have we to be vigilant as researchers but we also need to take our roles as peer reviewers very seriously.”

“It would be a great tragedy if MS’ers suffered unnecessarily or even died because of findings from flawed research.”
CoI: Nil

Please see the following previous post:

29 Jul 2011
However, it is useful for studying autoimmune reactions within the CNS and for studying how inflammation causes neuronal loss. I will ask Prof. David Baker to expand on this in more detail with a series of posts. 

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Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

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