Trial data do not support that hydroxyethyl starch is less harmful when given correctly. Forest plot showing mortality in the trials of hydroxyethyl starch (HES) versus control fluid, which were evaluated by Meybohm and colleagues . Subgroups were defined according to the proposed scoring of ‘presumable correct indication’ for fluid. Mortality in the intention-to-treat population of James and colleagues was derived from the consort diagram and secondary reports of this trial. Other mortality data were extracted from recent meta-analyses. The present meta-analysis shows comparable mortality estimates in trials with low versus high score; the suggestions by Meybohm and colleagues are thus not supported by trial data. CI, confidence interval; M-H, Mantel-Haenszel.Data from [7–10].