Tips to Write an Effective Clinical Case Report
A clinical case report can be described as a detailed report of the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of a patient. It generally describes an unusual or novel occurrence, but sometimes may also contain the demographic profile of the patient. As it presents first-hand information about a particular case, it is a great way for medical students and practitioners to start academic writing and get it published in journals. This is a great way to get cited in the research fraternity besides sharing your findings.
Can my findings be presented as a clinical case report?
Before writing a clinical case report, it is very important that you search journals relevant to your field of study. This gives a fair knowledge of the kind of cases published and the requirements for writing a case report.
According to the Journal of Medical Case Reports, a manuscript must adhere to the following criteria:
1.Unreported or unusual side effects or adverse interactions involving medications
2.Unexpected or unusual presentations of a disease
3.New associations or variations in disease processes
4.Presentations, diagnoses and/or management of new and emerging diseases
5.An unexpected association between diseases or symptoms
6.An unexpected event while observing or treating a patient
7.Findings that shed new light on the possible pathogenesis of a disease or an adverse effect
If you do not find much data related to your finding, carry out an extensive literature search to give your paper a high novelty value and greater chance of publication.
What information is to be included in the paper?
•Patient’s notes: These have a detailed record of the patient’s history, examination findings, results of investigations with dates, and operative findings, if any, together with the details of the actual interventions and follow-ups.
•Copies of radiographs, photographs, etc.
Ensure that you verify all data before using them. Other important issues are consent and confidentiality; refrain from using any information or photograph that could reveal the identity of the patient, and take prior consent of the patient(or, in exceptional cases, the guardian or caretaker)before going ahead with your plans. Such permission is an ethical obligation for submission of a clinical case report.
Structure of a clinical case report
Different journals have different formats, therefore it is advisable to select few target journals and read them to get a general idea of the sequence and format in which the content should be placed.
In general, case reports include the following components:
•Abstract: It is a short summary of the whole case report. It should preferably have a word count of 150-200 words.
•Introduction: This section gives a brief overview of the subject discussed and includes citations from relevant literature.
•A case: This section details the case presented in the report.
•Discussion: This is the crucial section of the report wherein all existing theories and research findings on the key issue in the patient’s condition are mentioned. This section cites literature reviews that are relevant to the case.
•Conclusion: This section gives the key points of the case report in brief. Authors incorporate their suggestions and recommendations in this section. In instances where journals do not want the conclusion in a separate section, the concluding paragraph of the discussion section could present the inferences.
•Literature review: This is a requisite section for some journals.
Where do I get my case report published?
It is very important to choose a journal whose scope includes your subject of study and targets a large and diverse audience. There is a wide array of open access and subscription-based journals for the authors to choose from.
Case reports are handy when medical practitioners are faced with challenging cases; they could refer to such reports to better understand the patient’s condition and chalk out a plan of treatment. Apart from that, getting your case report published is a good way to add weight to your curriculum vitae.