Writing a case report is often referred to as the first step of getting your papers published in a medical journal. Writing a case report has been a massive part of the history of the medical profession. Hence, when you come across an interesting and unusual case, it is customary to share it with the rest of the medical world.
Writing a case report requires a level of expertise in scientific writing. This is because published case reports have become a lexicon of medical literature. So, it has to be written clearly and concisely for readers to read, understand, and replicate.
What Is a Case Report?
A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment, symptoms, signs, and follow up of a patient is what is referred to as a case report. Often a case report may contain the demographic information of the patient, written to describe a novel or an unusual occurrence. Case reports are written professionally to narrate and give feedback on clinical practices.
Case reports are the cornerstones of medicine, as they provide various new ideas in the world of medicine. Also, they describe essential scientific observations that might have been missed during a clinical trial. They are usually short communication between clinicians, as most of them may not have the time to conduct large scale research.
Why Do You Write a Case Report?
There are several reasons why case reports are written, but the following are the most common.
There exist an unexpected association between certain diseases or symptoms
The discovery of unique therapeutic approaches
The results of a clinical trial shedding light on the pathogenesis of a disease
Discovery of the rare features of a disease
Development of a new theory
Questioning a current theory
The combination of medical conditions that could be confusing.
Unexpected findings when observing or treating a patient
A quantitative variation or positional of anatomical structures
How to Write a Standard Case Report
The following illustrates the steps taken to writing a case study
Determine the category of your case report
Case reports are written for reasons, and each of those reasons translates to a category of a case report. So when writing a case report, the very first step is to know the reason why you are writing the case report, which then translates to a category. It is this category that will specify exactly how the case report should be writing.
It is essential to get permission or consent for the patient or parent patients that the case report is about. Remember to keep a copy of the consent form; it will prove useful.
Gather useful information
When writing a case report, it is important to first gather all the crucial details about the case from medical notes and the hospital electronic system before writing commences. This is to ensure that the right details like the relevant sign and symptoms, as well as other details pertaining to the case, are included in the case report.
Formulate a short and precise title
For most write-ups, the title is always their first selling point. It is what attracts readers to read the contents. As such, you should make sure your title is interesting and grasp the reader’s attention. The title must be eye-catching and at the same time, concise.
Decide which journal you want to publish your case report
Various journals have different formats of structuring case reports. This is why it is important to decide which journal you would want your case reports to be published before writing commences. Research the journal and get a general idea about their sequence and formats.
Writing the actual case report is the final step in the journey of writing a case report. Begin to write up the case study following the structure and the guideline of the journal you want the case study to be published in. The write up should contain interesting details of the investigations leading to diagnosis, the presentation, and the management of the disease/pathology.
How to Structure Your Case Report Properly
As journals have different ways of formatting their case reports, all case reports must still have the following.
This should state what the case report is about; it should include “case report” and must highlight the most significant interest that makes the case report unique.
A case report must have an abstract that gives a brief rationale of the report, the main concern with the patient, the intervention, the outcome as well as the main message of the report. The abstract is required to be short, preferably not more than 150 words.
The introductory part of the case report should give a summary of the background and context of the case report. The introduction should include a brief, relevant literature review and end with the reason why the case is worth reporting.
This is the body of the report. Plus, this is where the author presents the patient description, case history, physical examination results, results of pathological tests and other investigations, treatment plan, expected outcome of the treatment plan as well as the actual outcome patient’s progress in a logical manner.
The case report should also give a timeline of everything being reported sequentially. All relevant details of the case report should be included leaving out the irrelevant ones.
This is regarded as the most crucial part of a case study. Also, this is the part where the author will have to convince the journal that the case is indeed worth publishing. While writing the “discussion” of the case report, the authors should start by expanding on the introduction and reemphasizing the reason why the case is worth reporting.
In the discussion, section is where the author tries to compare and contrast their case with the existing literature. Also, the key take-away points from the report and what value the case adds to the future clinical practice and research should be included.
Finally, the author should discuss the strengths and limitations of the case report as well as mentioning the main message the case is conveying.
All case reports must end with a conclusion. The conclusion summarizes the key points covered in the case reports. It is also where authors give recommendations and suggestions to other clinicians and researchers.