Retractions - One now, perhaps more in the future

We've written before about article retractions and why high-profile journals like NEJM might have the highest retraction indices (figure). Yet, retractions in infection prevention are very infrequent. In fact, the one major retraction we mentioned during 7 years of blogging was not strictly a retraction, but a re-analysis of N-95 vs surgical masks.

Which brings us to a rare retraction in infection prevention, namely this 2014 AJIC study looking at zero fluid displacement intravenous needless connector and CLABSI prevention. As reported this week in Retraction Watch, the study was initially questioned because of a failure to report conflicts of interest but has now been fully retracted by AJIC since an investigation found problems with the "consistency of the statistics over various study periods as well as the methods by which study sites were chosen." Fortunately, since this study was published less than 2-years ago and only cited once, this retractions won't be particularly damaging to the field.

However, with the recent announcement that NIH is providing an additional $100 million for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) along with increases in CDC and industry funding, there are now resources to fund high-impact studies that will appear in high-impact journals. And as if those pressures are not enough, the US Government has been tasked to reduce C. difficile infection by 50%, CRE by 60% and MRSA by 50% by 2020 compared to 2011. With the unprecedented increase in funding combined with difficult to achieve targets, there will be unbelievable pressure to cut corners in study design and analysis and over-promise or over-promote results. This all represents a potential recipe for disaster if our field isn't careful. On the bright side, societies like SHEA have very strict conflict of interest reporting, so we have some checks in place to identify conflicts and bias. Of course, this won't be enough. Be careful out there.


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