In medicine, a case report is a detailed report of the signs, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. It describes an unexpected presentation of an illness.
Writing a case report is an integral part of scientific writing because:
- It proposes a new hypothesis in Medical Science
- Shares new and rare clinical observations that can be the focus of a larger clinical study
- Helps to publicize information about a rare disease
However, as a novice author, you must gain the skills to write an effective case report. So, here we give you five and easy-to-follow tips to write an effective case report:
1) Identify the category of your case report
Before you write your case report, identify what you wish to tell the readers through it.
- An unexpected association between the disease and its symptoms
- An unexpected event in the course of the patient’s treatment
- Findings that shed a new light on the pathogenesis of a disease or its adverse effect
- Rare symptoms of a disease
- Unique therapeutic procedures
- A positional or quantitative variation of the anatomical structures
2) Select the right journal for your case report
Based on whether your case reports about injuries, respiratory diseases, etc. choose an appropriate journal for its publication. Besides, it is advisable to acquaint yourself with the journal’s author guidelines regarding the format of a case report, spacing, margins, figures, style of references, etc.
3) Collect all the relevant information related to your case report
- Record the details of all the events in the patient’s care which includes the medical history, examination findings, and the results of investigations with dates, operative findings, and follow-ups.
- Use the copies and not the originals of radiographs, photographs, etc.
- Verify the patient’s data such as history and dates of examination with the patient to make sure you have got the facts right.
4) Structure your case report as per the target journal guidelines
Majority journals suggest the following format for writing a case report:
- Abstract/Summary: It is an introduction to your case report. State the condition in brief and its significance. Do not forget to mention how rare the condition is. You can also cite articles that have already referred to this problem.
- Case presentation which includes:
- Patient’s identity
- Medical history
- Analysis of test results, usually positive ones
- Appropriate treatment plan and analysis
Before you describe the patient’s case in your report, it’s mandatory to get the patient’s consent on the same and mention it in your report.
- Differential diagnosis of the disease
- Support for the conditions considered
- Support for any additional investigations advised
- Pathophysiology of the disease
- Treatment issued
- Discussion – While writing this section of your case report, first explain the objective behind reporting such a case. Also, describe what others have previously written about the condition. To give the proof about the rarity of the condition you describe, write on the following aspects of the disease:
- Etiology/cause of the disease
- Epidemiology of the case
- Disease prevalence
- Complications of the disease
- Ethical dilemmas if any
- Conclusion: This section should be brief and not exceed one paragraph. Provide a justified conclusion of your case with evidence-based recommendations and any opportunities for future research.
- References for your case report
5) Start writing your case report
A case report is meant to disseminate important and relevant information about a rare condition or its unreported feature or its complication to the medical fraternity. Make sure your case report fits these criteria:
- Describes rare or novel diagnostic features of a diseased state
- Reports the therapeutic challenges, controversies, or dilemmas
- Describes a new surgical procedure
- Reports how the particular drug can enhance a surgical procedure
- Reports any new medical errors
- Describes rare or novel adverse reactions to a drug
- Describes a therapeutic failure
Also, before you commence your writing, do an extensive literature research on your topic.
Following these tips will help you write an effective case report in a timely manner and raise its chances of acceptance by your desired journal.