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Doctor fabricated research while depressed

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7473.996-c (Published 28 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:996
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. London

    A consultant gynaecologist who fabricated research has been reprimanded by the General Medical Council, after a psychiatrist's report indicated that depression had affected his judgment.

    Dr Loukas Klentzeris was director of the Cardiff Assisted Reproduction Unit in June 2002 when he submitted an abstract entitled “Correlation between peri-follicular blood flow, as determined by power Doppler and endometrial differentiation in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle” to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

    Dr Klentzeris was to present the paper at the organisation's conference in Vienna, but he cancelled the presentation and withdrew the abstract from the society's website. He had already presented the study's findings to the British Fertility Society in April 2002.

    The GMC's professional conduct committee found that none of the 38 women in the trial had taken a blood test described in the abstract. Dr Klentzeris admitted that the data were false but said, “If it was not for the mental state I was in I would never have done something like this.”

    Dr Klentzeris said his daughter had recently been confined to a wheelchair by illness, his father had been given a diagnosis of lung cancer, and his marriage was disintegrating. After visiting his sick father in Greece he had been threatened with disciplinary action for taking leave.

    He told the hearing he had written the paper in just two nights, saying: “It indicates I wasn't thinking very rationally at the time. It's very difficult to explain how I functioned when I wrote the abstract. I was not conscious that the results were falsified.”

    He wept as he told the committee: “I know I've done something wrong. I don't try to hide it.” He said he had left his job in Cardiff and now lives in Greece, separated from his wife and children. “That paper punished me. I've been punished not only financially but personally, credibility, socially.”

    Psychiatrist Dr Anthony Isaacs testified that Dr Klentzeris's depression had been severe enough that “a clear distinction between fact and fantasy would have been lost.”

    Lynn Griffin, counsel for the GMC, said: “What he is suggesting is that he was not fully cognitive of his actions. We say that it's clear he included in this abstract facts, data, which were false, weren't true, were fabricated or made up—perhaps the grossest example of which is the report of blood tests which simply hadn't happened. In lay terms many people might regard that as telling a lie.”

    Announcing the decision to take no action with respect to Dr Klentzeris's registration, committee chairman Mr Roger Ferguson said: “We have been assisted particularly by the independent psychiatric reports, all of which indicated that at the time of the events under consideration you were suffering from a mental condition precipitated by the severe stress you were experiencing in both your family and professional life.”

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