Beware of Medical Studies

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Beware of Medical Studies

A leader in postoperative pain management admits to making up at least 21 papers

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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It is really scary when you think about it. What might be the most far-reaching case of academic fraud yet, an anesthesiologist responsible for multiple papers, at least 21, has admitted that, gosh, he made most of it up! The bogus data may extend back to 1996, and it compromises Scott Reuben, doctor, fake, studiesarticles that appeared in several peer-reviewed journals.

Until recently, Dr. Scott Reuben reigned as a leader in the field of postoperative pain management. Now the value of several common protocols in the practice of multimodal analgesia is up for grabs. Particularly in question is the popular preference for using NSAIDS like Celebrex and neuropathic medications like Lyrica and Effexor instead of narcotic pain relievers after minimally invasive orthopedic and spinal procedures.

Community-based, independent physicians often conduct drug-company-sponsored research on medications post FDA approval. This type of research enhances patient care and extends medical knowledge; although more and more, questions about a possible conflict of interest arise. Nurses commonly provide support in the way of drug administration, documentation and patient education.

In this case, the misconduct came to light when reviewers for the Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts noted that Dr. Reuben filed abstracts for studies without approval for human research. Additional accusations also include the charge that, in at least one instance, the use of a co-author’s name is a forgery.    

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