October 9, 2012

Physicians and other medical professionals base their treatment and care decisions not only on their current knowledge, education, and experience, but also rely on continuing medical research throughout the United States and the world that adds to their medical expertise, their treatment options, and their decision-making process that are published in respected and authoritative medical journals. Most of these widely-read and highly-replied upon medical publications have peer review boards and/or editorial boards made up of prominent medical experts in various medical fields who scrutinize the articles submitted for publication to insure that the articles, the research they are based upon, and the conclusions that they draw are properly and adequately supported before the research articles are published in their journals.

Once medical research articles are published, other medical researchers and front-line medical providers will often rely on the published information and incorporate the information into their own efforts. Many researchers then build upon the newly published information in research articles in their own work so that medical advancements can help patients receive better, more effective, or different treatments for their medical conditions.

The honesty, sincerity, objectiveness, ethics, and competency of the research articles’ authors must be beyond question or reproach in order to insure that the intended beneficiaries of the research are not harmed by changes in their medical treatment based, at least in part, on newly published research.

In an effort to determine the extent and seriousness of “misconduct” involved in published medical research, researchers recently studied “retracted” research articles. A detailed review of all of the 2,047 biomedical and life-science research articles indexed by PubMed on May 3, 2012 that had been retracted found that 67.4% of retractions were attributable to misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%). The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased about 10-fold since 1975. Only 21.3% of retractions were attributable to error.


PubMed is a free resource that is developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine located at the National Institutes of Health. PubMed comprises over 22 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. PubMed citations and abstracts include the fields of biomedicine and health, covering portions of the life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, and bioengineering. PubMed also provides access to additional relevant web sites and links to the other NCBI molecular biology resources. Source

Why do some medical researchers engage in serious and intentional misconduct when they knowingly publish their suspect research articles? Getting their articles published in highly-respected and authoritative medical journals increases the researchers recognition by their peers and increases the likelihood of receiving research grants, promotions, and better job positions. Significantly, the number of retractions increased rapidly after 2005, when grant and funding from the National Institutes of Health became very tight. The phrase “publish or perish” is often used to describe the pressures on researchers to publish their work, even if their results are questionable or fraudulent.

If there are some medical researchers willing to sacrifice their professional reputations and their livelihoods by publishing false research results, how many physicians and other medical providers are willing to attempt to hide or lie about their negligent acts or negligent omissions (medical malpractice) that resulted in substantial or even fatal harm to their patients?

If you or someone you know have been harmed as a result of possible medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney to assist you in investigating your possible medical malpractice claim and to represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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