There’s a new winner in fraudulent medicine’s hall of infamy. Toho University’s Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii has more than doubled the last record with at least 209 research papers of dubious credibility, with many of his studies involving anesthesia.
Anesthesia’s Record with Fraud
This isn’t the first time anesthesia has been the subject of fraud. A considerable chunk—13 percent—of the 2,200 papers retracted in the last forty years have concerned anesthesiologists.
Daniel Sessler, chair of Department of Outcomes Research at Cleveland Clinic, says it’s just a bit of bad timing and bad luck. R. Grant Steen, a researcher of publishing ethics, meanwhile remarks on the horrible track record of anesthesiologists, “I really wonder whether [they] aren’t feeling like the ground is shifting underneath them.”
Yoshitaka Fujii and the Trail of Lies
Yoshitaka Fujii is probably still reeling; well over half of his papers are based on little more than figments of his imagination. He avoided detection for years by spreading fraudulent research across many journals—often without crediting or notifying other authors—and likely getting funding from several institutions. Many of his works’ co-authors had not given him their approval for publication or even know of the papers’ existence. The Retraction Watch blog said in March:
“He was not heavily cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, although some of his studies were cited by several dozen other papers.”
In fact, it’s been 12 years since the research from Yoshitaka Fujii was first questioned. Three anesthesiologists challenged Fujii’s statistical hiccups regarding side effects of his research on antiemetics in 2000. Years of fraud finally began to grind to a halt when, last year, Donald Miller—editor of the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia—challenged Fujii’s plagiarized submission. Caught in the act, Fujii requested to withdraw the paper. A skeptical Miller took matters to Toho University’s doorstep, although the institution was eager to mitigate damage made in view of the public.
One might recall Mayo Clinic admitting late last year that research fraud has rendered the last 10 years of cancer research utterly useless.