Errata in Medical Publications.

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Errata in Medical Publications.

Am J Med. 2014 Mar 21;

Authors: Hauptman PJ, Armbrecht ES, Chibnall JT, Guild C, Timm JP, Rich MW

BACKGROUND: Information is limited about the communication of corrections or errors in the medical literature; therefore we sought to determine the frequency and significance of published errata in high impact factor (IF) journals.
METHODS: Retrospective evaluation of errata reports for papers published in 20 English language general medicine and cardiovascular journals (mean IF=12.23, median=5.52) over 18-months. Each independently adjudicated erratum was categorized by location in the article and qualitative categories of severity. Descriptive statistics and Spearman's rank correlation coefficients were computed to describe the association between author and errata number. Source of error, association between IF and errata occurrence and errata rate by journal were assessed.
RESULTS: 557 articles were associated with errata reports (overall errata report occurrence 4.2 per 100 published original and review articles; mean 2.4 errors per errata report). 24.2% of papers with errata contained at least one major error that materially altered data interpretation. There was a strong association between IF and errata occurrence rate (rho=0.869, p<0.001). Across all errata, 37.7% were either not corrected or the report did not specify whether a correction was made.
CONCLUSIONS: The reporting of errata across journals lacks uniformity. Despite published criteria for authorship that mandate final approval of the manuscript by all authors, errors are frequent, including those that may materially change the interpretation of data. Increased vigilance by authors to prevent errata and consensus by journal editors on the format of reporting are warranted.

PMID: 24662621 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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