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Discredited Heart Story Is Retracted

February 11, 2003|From Associated Press

BOSTON — The New England Journal of Medicine retracted an article on a heart treatment Monday because one author had forged others' signatures on statements attesting that they had reviewed the data and the manuscript.

"There was an egregious disregard of the principles of authorship," the journal's editor in chief, executive editor and managing editor wrote.

The article, published in the journal Oct. 24, was about using a controlled heart attack to shrink the heart's central wall when it has become so thick and stiff that it keeps blood from flowing easily. This type of heart enlargement has contributed to sudden death in athletes and young people.

Neither the journal's editorial nor the authors' retraction letter, both of which were released Monday and posted at the top of the journal's Web page, said which author was the forger.

"We didn't think it was appropriate to get into that," said Dr. Gregory D. Curfman, the journal's executive editor, since the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London, where six of the authors work, is conducting its own investigation.

Curfman said that in his 17 years at the journal, the publication has had to retract perhaps four or five articles.

This was the first recalled because of falsified signatures, he said.

"To prevent the problem from happening again, we plan to inform all authors of record by e-mail when their manuscript is accepted," the journal's editorial said.

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