ICU mortality findings incorrect: Lancet Respiratory Medicine

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine has retracted a meta-analysis it published last year after concerns around its accuracy came to light.

The paper “Effect of early versus late or no tracheostomy on mortality of critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation: a systematic review and meta-analysis” led by Dr Siempos from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston was published by the journal in June of 2014.

It found that all-cause mortality in the ICU was significantly lower in patients assigned to the early versus the late or no tracheostomy group (OR 0·72, 95% CI 0·53–0·98; p=0·04).

However a letter from an external party that highlighted concerns around two of the studies used in the analysis led to the authors issuing the following statement in an editorial ‘expression of concern’ about the paper.

“While extracting data on ICU mortality from two trials (Zheng et al and Terragni et al), we made an incorrect assumption; we assumed that patients who were not discharged from the ICU, died in the ICU…We have made every effort subsequently to acquire the correct data on ICU mortality for both trials, but have been unable to obtain data for ICU mortality…We (the authors) cannot be sure that our finding regarding ICU mortality is not misleading.”

A panel of experts has been convened to discuss the findings, and the journal will inform readers as soon as we have the thoughts of this group.

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