Falsifying Data: Anesthesiology Research May Have Found its Own Bernie Madoff

You all know who Bernie Madoff is. He’s the guy who pulled off the biggest financial scam in history. Madoff’s scam wasn’t just big. It was enormous. Mind-boggling. How, everyone asked, did he pull it off? And beyond that, what made him think he could get away with it?

Now, it looks like the field of Anesthesiology research may have its own Bernie Madoff, in the person of one Scott S Reuben, MD.

The story comes from Anesthesiology News, and reported repeated the Pharmola.com website: Fraud Case Rocks Anesthesiology Community

In what experts are calling one of the largest known cases of academic misconduct, a leading anesthesiology researcher has been accused of falsifying data and other fraud in potentially dozens of published studies.

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….

How on earth….? Well, details are still foggy. But the story quotes my friend, Josephine Johnston, who works at the Hastings Center:

What’s particularly surprising given the dimensions of the case, Ms. Johnston said, is that Dr. Reuben’s research managed to raise no alarms among peer reviewers. However, she added, “the peer review system can only do so much. Trust is a major component of the academic world. It’s backed up by the implication that your reputation will be destroyed if you violate that trust.”

(The original Anesthesiology News story, here, requires registration.)

~ by Nancy Walton on March 10, 2009.

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