Case reports have been described as inferior and the weakest level of clinical evidence. While it is true that a journal case report cannot replace the power of a clinical trial for the evidence-based data it generates, the case report still has an important role to play in the medical literature. Case reports serve the function of proposing new hypotheses and sharing clinical observations that can become the focus of a larger scientific study. Writing a report on a rare disease may be the main way to publish it, as a small number of patients makes it unlikely that that disease will be part of a clinical trial or other research work. Learning to write a case report is a skill that early stage investigators must acquire. The format of the case report is specific to the requirements of the target journal, so it is important that authors first consult the journal’s instructions for authors before beginning to write the article. How to write a case report medical student?
The report of the first case of AIDS and Parkinson’s disease were published as case reports. Obviously, this raised awareness of these diseases in the medical and scientific communities, which has spawned many research efforts seeking to treat and cure these diseases. The case reports initially began as more anecdotal discussions between physicians, but have since been formalized in a more academic format.
A guide to writing case reports
One of the best ways to approach any academic work is to try to understand its purpose. A case report is most useful when
- Describe a new disease
- Describes rare manifestations of a known disease.
- Clarifies the mechanism of a disease.
- Describe the beneficial or adverse side effects of a treatment.
- Contribute to medical education.
Before writing a case report, it may be a good idea to check if the case meets these criteria:
- Obtaining informed consent to write the case report is critical. It is important that patient information is protected and that patient confidentiality is not violated. Some journals follow a case report format that includes the patient’s perspective. If the authors had obtained the informed consent of the patients at the time of beginning the study, the patients could agree to contribute their perspective to the case report. How to write a case report medical student?
- Once the patient’s consent is obtained, the authors must decide on a journal to which they will send the case report. Authors should be sure to choose a journal whose target audience is likely to be interested in the case being reported. Once the decision is made, the authors should read the journal guidelines to ensure that the case report format meets the specified instructions. Authors should also consult the most recent case reports published in the journal. This will help authors get an idea of the style to be expected and the types of case reports that the journal tends to publish. Once this is done, the next logical step is to focus on writing the sections of the case report.
Case report format
The format for the case report will be dictated by the target journal. A typical case report includes the title, abstract, introduction, case description, and discussion. In some cases, there may also be a conclusion and a patient’s perspective.
The title and abstract are two key components of any academic article. These sections are freely available and readers often review the summary to determine if they want to read the full case report. The title must be precise, concise and relevant. An interesting or attractive title can help attract readers to the study. Authors may choose to write the title after the rest of the report to ensure that it reflects the tone of the predominant issue in the case report. How to write a case report medical student?
The abstract is usually less than 300 words and summarizes the content of the case report. The title and abstract are used to index your case report to facilitate bibliographic search. It is advisable to consult the journal’s instructions to structure the abstract, according to them.
While some journals require an introduction, others prefer the case description to directly follow the abstract. The introduction should provide the required context for readers to understand why the authors decided to publish the case report. However, the authors should ensure that it is not an extensive review of the literature. The case description should proceed chronologically and provide sufficient detail to readers to understand how the authors arrived at the diagnosis and why they chose to administer the treatments. In this section, it is essential to provide only the information necessary to correctly describe the case. Authors should exclude any data that is not essential to understand the diagnosis and treatment. In the discussion section, the authors must justify their opinions and make appropriate recommendations. Authors should evaluate the particular case to verify accuracy and novelty. Extensive review of the literature should be avoided. In most cases, journals limit the references associated with a case report to no more than 15 articles.
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to how to write a case report is the purpose of writing one, which is to raise awareness of any unusual cases observed during the course of medical practice. It is important to adhere to the journal’s prescribed case report format. It is also important to obtain the required consent of the patient and to follow the guidelines specified by the respective institutional review board. How to write a case report medical student?