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Doctor faked pain studies

A world-renowned Massachusetts anesthesiologist appears to have perpetrated what may be one of the most extensive cases of medical fraud, faking data and even making up entire studies in at least 21 cases. Scott Reuben, the former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., admitted that he falsified data in 10 articles in Anesthesia and Analgesia, as well as an additional 11 articles in journals including Acute Pain, Anesthesiology, and others. The studies all relat

By | March 11, 2009

A world-renowned Massachusetts anesthesiologist appears to have perpetrated what may be one of the most extensive cases of medical fraud, faking data and even making up entire studies in at least 21 cases. Scott Reuben, the former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., admitted that he falsified data in 10 articles in Anesthesia and Analgesia, as well as an additional 11 articles in journals including Acute Pain, Anesthesiology, and others. The studies all related to Reuben's area of expertise -- multimodal anesthesia, or the combined use of different classes of pain medications. Reuben was one of the leaders in the area. The findings leave the field of multimodal anesthesiology in disarray. "There's no question that conceptually multimodal analgesia is the way to go for postoperative pain management," said Steve Shafer, the editor-in-chief of Anesthesia and Analgesia, but Reuben's studies provided key evidence supporting the combined use of the Pfizer pain drugs Celebrex and Lyrica. Without those studies, "we know a lot less than we thought we knew," he said. The fraud was uncovered at Baystate's annual Research Week research presentation, when Reuben presented preliminary findings from a study that had not been cleared by the hospital's Institutional Review Board (IRB), which oversees ethics in human trials. At the meeting, Hal Jenson, the chief academic officer of the hospital, noticed the problem. The lapse prompted Baystate to conduct an audit of his past work, which eventually uncovered an extensive history of falsification dating back to 1996, said Jane Albert, a public affairs representative for the hospital. As a result of the findings, Reuben was put on medical leave and barred from research and educational activities for at least 10 years, according to an article in Anesthesiology News. The hospital has no plans to press charges, according to the article. Reuben did not respond to an email query from The Scientist seeking comment. Reuben also collaborated with Pfizer on a number of trials, but the findings of those studies are not in question, Shafer said. "It would be impossible to fabricate the data in such trials. The level of auditing is just too intense," he said. Pfizer could not be reached for comment. "I've worked with Scott, I've known him for many, many years. He has been a very productive researcher, and the fact that 21 of these studies are in part, or all fabricated, is extraordinarily distressing," said James Rathmell, the chief of pain medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who reviewed some of Reuben's papers for the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. In addition, Reuben falsely included Evan Ekman, an orthopedic surgeon at Southern Orthopaedic Sports Medicine in Columbia, SC, on two of his papers in Anesthesia and Analgesia, Ekman told The Scientist. Ekman collaborated with Reuben on one paper, but subsequently found out that his name had been included in two other manuscripts he had never seen. Concerned, he requested that the editorial board send him a copy of the signature. "It was just a blanket forgery," he said. "It doesn't really look anything like my signature." The results are a huge embarrassment to the field, said Ekman. Rathmell agreed. "My selfish worry is that there will be collateral damage, that nobody will trust anything that we as researchers do," he said. "But in terms of how we treat patients, the impact is pretty small."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Images faked by UCSF postdoc;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55427/
[16th February 2009]*linkurl:UCLA prof falsified cancer data;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55408/
[9th February 2009]*linkurl:The aftermath of fraud;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22637/
[28th March 2005]

Comments

Avatar of: Sergio Vasquez

Sergio Vasquez

Posts: 24

March 11, 2009

Regardless if the studies were conducted on taxpayer's dime or industry/private funds, this is criminal and should be punished.\n\n\n
Avatar of: Jun Zhang

Jun Zhang

Posts: 10

March 12, 2009

This is killing people!\nHe did't know it?
Avatar of: eve barak

eve barak

Posts: 85

March 12, 2009

Why is the hospital not pressing charges? It seems likely that he based some of his patient treatments on the same protocols that "worked" in his phony research papers. This is medical malpractice. Patients would have every right to sue. Whatever happened to the doctrine of "above all else, do no harm" ?? \n\nHow could this have gone on for so many years with nobody at the hospital noticing? Or did someone notice and the alarm was ignored? \n\nThis is not a harmless set of pranks. There are consequences.\n\nThe whole thing raises so many questions, and I find myself holding my nose just thinking about it.\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 12, 2009

Scientist and doctor scientist are pushed to "produce". When will one admit that science takes time it has ups and downs and the "prolific" ones might be the most dangerous ones.
Avatar of: nitin gandhi

nitin gandhi

Posts: 34

March 13, 2009

Gone are the days when Newton was curious to know why apple falls down. Curiosity driven science is ending. Science starts from getting admitted into good university as the graduate student, getting position, grants, impact factor etc etc... science is lost in this proscess and malpractice takes over. This could be tip of the iceberg. Doing mediocre research or getting grants by you scratch my back i scratch yours is not another form of scientific misconduct?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 51

March 13, 2009

This is another example of the erronious concept of Publish or Parish practised in scientific research establishment for decades. Looking for research funds, career developmemt, promotion and fame, are just few causes of fraudulent behavior.Better reward modest, humble and honest scientists who just enjoy doing their research even under adverse conditions.

March 14, 2009

This is not merely another instance unethical behavior. This is cheating, fraud and criminal breach of trust. Whether it was only the itch to fame or greed for some "consideration" needs to be investigated. Pending the due process of Law, his licence to practice must be suspended. There also a need for a debate on revival of corporeal punishment for habitual offenders conducting frauds in Science.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 16, 2009

I worked for an agency that held the destiny of others in its day to day administration and no one would believe what passed for professional\ntreatment! How can an uncredentialed person be placed in a position eventually resulting in patient death? How many physicians have surrounded themselves with a group of supporters\nthat will lie and provide phony moral support day after day? This has become the American way, and I advise you if you fall into this mentallity of care (business!), be afraid, be very afraid!
Avatar of: Angela Edwards

Angela Edwards

Posts: 1

March 29, 2009

This should be treated as a criminal act. A LOT of trust is put in our doctors and if they are participating in fraud, this is very, very bad.\n\n\nAngela\n\nBacklinks
Avatar of: Stephen Boyd

Stephen Boyd

Posts: 2

April 6, 2009

This is a disgrace. Since 1996 Reuben has falsified data, but it took an audit by Baystate Medical to finally figure out what's really been going on?\n\nThis says a lot about management and policies at Baystate Medical...which is not saying much.\n\n-Stephen Injury Lawyer Cherry Hill
Avatar of: Andy Felix

Andy Felix

Posts: 1

May 16, 2009

This is seriously a criminal act. Doctors like other important professions hold a moral duty - extremely disappointing!\n\nhgh\nherpes treatment
Avatar of: Mike Larson

Mike Larson

Posts: 1

July 20, 2009

Pathetic. Do you know how hard it is as a patient to get your doctor to understand the "type" of pain you are experiencing? Until you have actually been there and experienced it you just can not understand. This Doctor needs to not only have their license revoked if they have one but to have their degrees rescinded. This is simply not a forgivable act. Feel free to comment me direct Conversion Vans. I'd love to know how anyone can have any sympathy for a person like this who clearly has no interest in the betterment of the human race.
Avatar of: Bret Driver

Bret Driver

Posts: 3

August 19, 2009

"A world-renowned Massachusetts anesthesiologist appears to have perpetrated what may be one of the most extensive cases of medical fraud, faking data and even making up entire studies in at least 21 cases."\n\nIt's hard to believe that this could go on unnoticed for so long.\n\nportland window cleaning
Avatar of: Jeff Jean

Jeff Jean

Posts: 1

October 25, 2009

Every now and then we will find some doctors who are not loyal to the American public but the majority of them are not that way which should make us feel safe and comfortable with the medical industry..

November 17, 2009

It doesn't matter what field, this nonsense will always come. The credibility of a researcher affects his or her reputation in their field of work. Although this may not directly have affected how these doctors "treat their patients" it is not to say that it can't affect their relationships with their patients ?

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