90 Papers by German Could Be Retracted on Ethics Concerns

An ongoing investigation into the work of a German anaesthesiologist may lead to as many as 90 retractions. Joachim Boldt was fired in November from his job as head of anesthesia at the Klinikum Ludwigshafen after an investigation into a 2009 paper raised suspicions that the study described in the article had never taken place. Boldt has published more than 300 articles, many about the safety of a type of fluid replacement used during surgery called hydroxyethyl starch . Retraction Watch has been following the story in detail.

Today, the Klinikum Ludwigshafen and the German state medical association of Rheinland Pfalz announced that 90 of 115 studies they examined lacked proper approval from an institutional review board (IRB).

That prompted a joint letter from the editors of 11 journals stating that lack of IRB approval is grounds for automatic retraction of an article. The editor of Anaesthesia & Analgesia, where the 2009 paper was published, also issued a statement, and the journal published four editorials about the case online.

The clinic's investigation is ongoing. They said in a statement today that there is no evidence that patients were harmed in any of the studies. Experts in Germany, however, are now recommending against routine use of hydroxyethyl starch given the questions surrounding Boldt's work.