Joachim Boldt (born 29 September 1954) is a German anesthesiologist who was previously considered a leading researcher of medicinal colloids. He was an advocate for the use of colloidal hydroxyethyl starch to boost blood pressure during surgery. He has been stripped of his professorship and is under criminal investigation for possible forgery of up to 90 research studies.
The editors of 16 different scientific journals, including Anesthesia & Analgesia, Anaesthesia, the European Journal of Anaesthesiology, and the British Journal of Anaesthesia, allege that 89 of 102 studies published by Boldt contained research without proper institutional review board approval.
On 10 November 2010 Boldt was suspended from Klinikum Ludwigshafen, a hospital in Germany, for a scientific publication in Anesthesia & Analgesia with insufficient background research. His field of research and the publications were related to hydroxyethyl starch (HES). Some 90 studies he published are currently being reviewed by medical authorities.
In February 2011, Boldt was stripped of his title of professor at the University of Giessen for failing to teach, and the university is investigating possible charges of scientific misconduct. His case was described at the time as "possibly the biggest medical research scandal since Andrew Wakefield was struck off in 2010 for falsely claiming to have proved a link between the MMR vaccine and autism".
In August 2012, the hospital released the results of the investigation: while no patients were harmed, "in a large number of the studies investigated, the conduct of research failed to meet required standards. False data were published in at least 10 of the 91 articles examined, including, for instance, data on patient numbers/ study groups as well as data on the timing of measurements".
On 20 February 2013, JAMA published a meta-analysis on HES in critically ill patients. Boldt had 7 studies from the 1990s that had not yet been retracted. Including them, there was no increase in mortality, but excluding them, there was a significant increase in mortality. Only the Boldt studies showed an improvement with HES; all other studies showed no benefit but significant risks. It is believed that his fraudulent studies put critically ill patients at risk and caused harm.
An overview of the challenges that this fraud has presented for the meta-analysts has been published in 2013. It includes double publication of studies, manipulating demographic and outcome data to conceal double publication, and getting better results for a drug being tested.
By 2017, 96 of Boldt's papers had been retracted. In October 2018, a review highlighted additional retractions with the oldest retracted paper from 1986, demonstrating persistent fraud for Boldt's entire career. Statistical analyses demonstrate that it is likely that many fraudulent papers from Boldt remain and editors should take action. As of 2021, Boldt has had 153 of his research publications retracted, including those reporting clinical trial results.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2011-03-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Wise, Jacqui (2013-03-19). "Boldt: the great pretender". BMJ. 346: f1738. doi:10.1136/bmj.f1738. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 23512099. S2CID 38003087.
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- "Joachim Boldt profile: a glittering career built on charisma and charm", Daily Telegraph, 2011-03-03 (retrieved: 2011-03-04)
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- Press release, Klinikum Ludwigshafen, http://www.klilu.de/content/aktuelles___presse/pressearchiv/2012/hospital_presents_results_of_final_report_committee_completes_investigation_in_the_case_of_dr_boldt/index_ger.html Archived 2012-10-22 at the Wayback Machine, 9 August 2012
- Zarychanski, Ryan; Abou-Setta, Ahmed M.; Turgeon, Alexis F.; Houston, Brett L.; McIntyre, Lauralyn; Marshall, John C.; Fergusson, Dean A. (2013). "Association of Hydroxyethyl Starch Administration with Mortality and Acute Kidney Injury in Critically Ill Patients Requiring Volume Resuscitation". JAMA. 309 (7): 678–88. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.430. PMID 23423413.
- Antonelli, Massimo; Sandroni, Claudio (2013). "Hydroxyethyl Starch for Intravenous Volume Replacement". JAMA. 309 (7): 723–4. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.851. PMID 23423420.
- Wilkes, Mahlon M.; Navickis, Roberta J. (2013). "The Boldt affair: a quandary for meta-analysts". Anesthesiology News. 39 (4): 8–9. Archived from the original on 2015-04-25.
- "The Retraction Watch Leaderboard". 2015-06-16.
- Wiedermann, Christian J.; Joannidis, Michael (2018). "The Boldt scandal still in need of action: The example of colloids 10 years after initial suspicion of fraud". Intensive Care Medicine. 44 (10): 1735–1737. doi:10.1007/s00134-018-5289-3. PMC 7572333. PMID 29968012.
- "Retraction Watch Database". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 2021-04-09.