Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Fraud and retraction in perioperative medicine publications: what we learned and what can be implemented to prevent future recurrence
  1. Consolato Gianluca Nato,
  2. Leonardo Tabacco,
  3. Federico Bilotta
  1. Department of Anaesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Umberto I Policlinico di Roma, Roma, Lazio, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Federico Bilotta, Department of Anaesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Umberto I Policlinico di Roma, 00161 Roma, Lazio, Italy; bilotta{at}


Fraud in medical publications is an increasing concern. In particular, disciplines related to perioperative medicine—including anaesthesia and critical care—currently hold the highest rankings in terms of retracted papers for research misconduct. The dominance of this dubious achievement is attributable to a limited number of researchers who have repeatedly committed scientific fraud. In the last three decades, six researchers have authored 421 of the 475 papers retracted in perioperative medicine. This narrative review reports on six cases of fabricated publication in perioperative medicine that resulted in the paper’s retraction. The process that led to the unveiling of the fraud, the impact on clinical practice, and changes in regulatory mechanisms of scientific companies and governmental agencies’ policies are also presented. Fraud in medical publications is a growing concern that affects perioperative medicine requiring a substantial number of papers to be retracted. The continuous control elicited by readers, by local institutional review boards, scientific journal reviewers, scientific societies and government agencies can play an important role in preserving the ‘pact of trust’ between authors, professionals and ultimately the relationship between doctors and patients.

  • applied and professional ethics
  • anaesthetics / anesthesiology
  • clinical ethics
  • education
  • ethics

Data availability statement

There are no data in this work.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since publication. Reader feedback post-publication identified factual inaccuracies in the cases described and typographical errors. The Editor-in-chief (EIC) has reviewed the article and associated references. The errors did not substantially affect the discussion section or conclusions of the article. The errors spotted by the reader, together with others identified by the EIC, have been amended. We thank the reader for bringing this to our attention and the authors for their cooperation. The errors appear to have arisen from difficulties understanding and writing in English. For further details on the correct text, please see supplemental file 1.

  • Contributors FB conceived of the presented idea. CGN and FB did the research and drafted the manuscript. LT and FB revised it. All authors listed contributed to the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

Other content recommended for you