A paper was submitted, describing a doctor who had given an injection of a drug (actually a herbal/homeopathic remedy) to a patient who had already experienced recurrent swelling when given previous injections of the drug. The patient suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction, but survived. The reviewer suggests that it was negligent to give such an injection. It seems at least plausible that this was negligence, and the question for the journal is whether any action should be taken. COPE has made it clear that editors have a duty to act on information about research misconduct. Do editors also have an obligation to act when papers describe clinical misconduct?
_ This raises the issue of just where the editor’s responsibilities end—at what level should misconduct be investigated. Do editors have a broader obligation? _ The editor should draw it to the attention of the local regulatory body, as there is a responsibility to the public, and this could only be played out if the matter was presented to a such a body.
The authors of the paper talked to the doctor who had given the injection and to the patient who had received it. The patient was disappointed at her family doctor’s performance, but decided not to take any further action.