How To Write a Case Report

How to write a case report

In medicine, it is common practice to share interesting cases with unusual presentations or unexpected developments with the broader medical community. This practice facilitates ongoing learning and aids in quicker diagnosis and treatment for patients.

Typically, these are easy papers to write up. However, they tend to be more difficult than original research to get published and don’t count for all higher specialty training applications. Here are a few straightforward tips to help you get started.

Identify a case

Begin by meeting with your medical team to discuss the intriguing aspects of the case and identify key learning points. Ideally, a registrar or middle-grade doctor will mentor you and provide guidance. Note however that journals often limit authors on case reports so try to avoid having more than between 4-5 authors. Assign tasks to divide the workload, set deadlines, establish a work timeframe, and decide on the order of authorship. Every listed author should make a substantial contribution, with the primary author listed first and the principle author (usually the most senior team member) last.

 

Getting Consent

Obtain permission and written consent to write up the case from the patient or the patient’s parents if the patient is a child. Keep a copy of the consent form, as it will be required for journal submission later. Note: each journal has its own consent forms and some require the patient to have viewed the paper.

 

Information Gathering

Collect all relevant information from the medical notes and the hospital’s electronic systems, including copies of blood results and imaging. Medical notes often go missing after patient discharge, making them difficult to locate later. Ensure the data is anonymized in accordance with your hospital’s policy.

 

Writing Up

Emphasize the interesting points of the case presentation, the investigations leading to the diagnosis, and the management of the disease or pathology. Solicit input from all team members, ensuring their contributions are highlighted. If known, include the patient’s prognosis, as readers will want to know the outcome.

 

Coming Up with a Title

Discuss potential titles with your supervisor and other team members. The title should be concise, interesting, and searchable in medical literature databases. Also, consider how you will present your case study—such as a poster presentation or scientific paper—and identify potential journals or conferences, as different formats may require specific styles.

 

Background Research

Research the disease or pathology that is the focus of your article. Write a background paragraph or two, highlighting the relevance of your case report. If you need assistance, seek the opinion of a specialist who may recommend relevant articles or texts. The hospital library is also a valuable resource for literature searches.

 

How Your Case is Different

Describe how the case presented differently to the admitting team. If your report focuses on management, discuss the challenges faced and alternative treatment options considered.

 

Conclusion

Explain how your case report contributes to the medical literature and highlight any learning points.

 

Writing an Abstract

The abstract should be 100-200 words, concisely highlighting all key points. Writing the abstract can be challenging and requires special attention, as it will be used to determine if your case is accepted for presentation or publication.

 

 

Examples

Here is a table below of case reports and journals you can aim to submit in.

 

Journal

Case report

https://casereports.bmj.com/

Reactive arthritis after COVID-19 (https://casereports.bmj.com/content/14/3/e241375)

https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/about

Sinonasal immunoglobulin G4-related disease: a case report of an atypical and rare entity (https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13256-024-04594-0)

https://www.cureus.com/

Non-enhancing Glioblastoma: A Case Report (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10386892/)

Home

Case Report: Traumatic Distal Achilles Tendon Rupture in a Pediatric Patient (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10664225/)

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