Rejecting an extraordinary request from industry to retract a controversial paper, Douglas Zipes, the editor-in-chief of HeartRhythm, has written a rare, highly pointed editorial defending the publication process. ”If one disagrees with facts/statements in a publication,” writes the editor, Douglas Zipes, “there is a well-defined approach that can begin with a letter to the editor or submission of one’s own data for peer review to counter the conclusions in the article.”
Zipes was responding to a request from St. Jude alleging numerous mistakes and oversights in an article by Robert Hauser published online in HeartRhythm linking the company’s Riata and Riata ST leads to 20 or more deaths. The company publicly asked the journal, which is published by the Heart Rhythm Society, to retract the article.
“The peer review process is a time-honored, well-choreographed procedure that has served the intellectual world for several hundred years,” writes Zipes. “While occasional decisions may be incorrect, and fail to identify a submission of low (or high) quality, containing incorrect data, or even one that is fraudulent, in the main the system works.”
The publication of an editorial by Zipes was itself unusual, he noted: ”I do not write many editorials because I feel my role as editor-in-chief is to be as impartial as possible.” In this case, “however, the recent events that transpired… have compelled me to speak out.”
The Hauser article has received additional public support from electrophysiologist Edward J Schloss. In a detailed review of the Hauser and St. Jude papers, Schloss noted that they had applied different methodologies in their search of the MAUDE database.
Schloos offered the following comment in response to the Zipes editorial: “I applaud Dr. Zipes and HeartRhythm for publishing Dr. Hauser’s study. This important work should serve as a call to the cardiology community to increase their vigilance in detecting electrical failures in Riata/Riata ST ICD leads.”