Should scientists write editorials about their own published work?

April 16, 2011 by MassDevice

Cardiologist blogger Dr. Westby G. Fisher considers whether the authors of published peer reviewed papers should write the editorials that accompany their own research.

Dr. Wes

By Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC

In January, 2011, an article authored by Sana M Al-Khatib, MD and others appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled "Non-Evidence-Based ICD Implantations in the United States." The resultant headlines were widespread, appearing in, the The Wall Street Journal, ABC News and many, many more news outlets and blogs. So widespread was the story that even the Heart Rhythm Society had to make a statement about this study.

Now, to be fair, the study brought to light the fact that many ICD's were not implanted according to "guidelines." Most of us in the business acknowledge that fact. But there are many many shortcomings to the original article, the least of which were that new guidelines were published in 2008 in response to new data about ICD's, but because CMS still uses outdated 2005 "guidelines," the authors stuck to their original story line.

* sigh *

No matter: the specter that perhaps only 77.5 percent of America's doctors were implanting ICD's appropriately was just too juicy for mainstream media to ignore. 

Fast forward to March, 2011.

A follow-up article by the same group was published more quietly in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes entitled "Extent of and Reasons for Nonuse of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Devices in Clinical Practice Among Eligible Patients With Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction" with Sana M Al-Khatib as second author. In that paper, they looked at just one institution's data for only seven months to find: