On your round, as a medical student, you might have encountered an interesting case. So, your supervisor might have suggested you write a medical case study report to understand everything better. In case you do not know how to write a medical case study, hearing that you might have panicked. However, you do not need to worry. We have got your back. Medical case study reports follow a standard structure. So, writing a case study is not very difficult if you understand what and how to include it. With that in mind, read the article below to learn how to write a medical case study report.
What is a Medical Case Study?
In medical school, a case study report is an academic publication that aims to describe an unusual and interesting case that students encounter during their rounds. Medical case study reports are published by academic medical journals to educate other medical practitioners about any certain unusual case.
It is an in-depth report of the signs, symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, and a follow-up report of the patient. So, it is a great means of circulating new knowledge that one learns from practice. Also, while writing a medical case study report, avoid including the patient’s personal details including their name or contact.
Besides, you should also ask your patient or their close relatives for permission before you write a case study report on them.
Why do You Need to Publish a Medical Case Study Report?
Some of the common reasons for writing a medical case study report are:
- An unexpected connection between the disease and its symptoms
- Weird response to therapies
- Illustration of a new medical theory
- Any unexpected event that occurs during the patient’s treatment
- Anything that leads to any possible pathogenesis of any disease
How to Find a Suitable Case?
As a practitioner or a medical student, you should always have an eye out for any unusual case. In the beginning, you may find it hard to find a case that you need to write a case study report about. However, as you keep practicing, you will learn which cases are worth writing a case study about.
According to the Editor-in-chief of the Journal Clinical Case Reports:
A good case report is considered to have a clear message, can be generalized, and is relevant to many other clinicians.
Hence, if you find any case that has something unusual connection between the disease or its symptoms or if there is any usual behavior during a patient’s treatment and you find the case to have a clear message, be sure to write a case study report.
How to Write a Medical Case Study
Step 1: Find all the Hospital Records
When you encounter any interesting and unusual case that you think is suitable enough for the writing case study, you should find out all the hospital records of the patient. You may need to attach these documents as a reference. Otherwise, they can be a great help while writing the case study.
Some of the documents that you may need are:
- Chronological case history
- Physical exam results
- Patients description
- Treatment plan
- Results of imaging, pathological tests, and other medical investigations
- Expected results of the treatment
- And actual results of the treatment
Step 2: Research on Patients Condition and Treatment
Once you find all the documents that you might need while writing a case study report, you are good to start researching existing literature on a patient’s condition and treatments. In an ideal case, when you research the patient’s condition or symptoms on existing medical literature and database, you may not find anything related enough. In such a case, you have found a case that is worthy of writing a medical case study report.
Furthermore, you will need some references to back up your argument confirming that it is an unusual case. Besides, you will need them to support the symptoms, treatment, and unexpected results of that treatment.
Generally, we recommend you try to find out at least 15 to 20 strong enough references to include in your medical case study report.
Step 3: Write Your Case Study
Now that you know what is a medical case study report, why you need one, and how to find a suitable case, you are good to start writing a case study. At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that case studies have a set structure. So, if you learn what, and how to include, you can easily learn how to write a medical case study.
Well, different journals have different formats and we advise you to select a few and read some of their case studies to learn about them. However, all medical case study reports, in general, should include the followings.
Other than the above elements, some journals also require medical practitioners to include a literature review.
The first element in a medical case study report is an abstract. It is a summary of the case, the problem that it concerns, and the message that it is trying to convey. Moreover, the abstracts are, generally, concise and not more than 150 words to 200 words.
So, while writing the abstract of your medical case study report, try to be clear and concise and only give a brief overview of what is the case study about.
The introduction, in general, is also an overview of the case and the problem that it is facing. Besides, it also includes a literature review wherever necessary. So, if you have not skipped step 2 and done all your research on the existing literature review, you will be able to write a strong introduction.
Moreover, try to end the introduction with the patient’s current condition that is happening due to the unusuality of the case.
This part of your case study, of course, is an in-depth explanation of the case. And it includes the following details.
- Patient’s case history
- Physical examination results
- Results of the tests and investigations such as pathological tests
- Their treatment plan
- Expected results of the treatment plan
- And lastly, the actual results of the treatment plan
Each section should have enough required details. Besides, avoid adding unnecessary information.
This is the most important part of your medical case study report. You have to give enough reasons to convince the journal that your case study is worthy of publication. The first thing that you should add in this part is the case itself that you have already mentioned in the introduction part. Then, give enough reasons and arguments to prove that the case is noteworthy.
Next, give a summary of the existing literature and knowledge about the case and problem that the patient is facing. Some of the journals require a separate section for the literature review while others do not. So, you have to check whether the journal you want to publish your case study in requires one or not.
Besides, it should be able to describe existing knowledge and research results on the issues that the patient is facing. And how studying it more deeply can add value to future medical practics. Then, narrow down to what makes the case unusual and challenging.
A medical case study report either has a conclusion or summary points which depends on the journal you want to publish your case study. Whichever you have to add, you should be able to briefly describe the key points in the case study to your readers.
Other than that, you can also add suggestions and recommendations for practitioners, teachers, and researchers.
Note on Patient’s Consent
The patient’s agreement is crucial. So, even before you start writing the case study, ask your patient and their close relatives for contentment. Verbal contentment is not enough. You have to prepare a written consent as the journals require one.
In case, the patient is unable to give consent, ask their close relatives including family. Moreover, patients’ privacy is equally important. So, remember to take precautions not to include any information that may violate their privacy.
Step 4: Edit Before You Submit
Lastly, before you submit your case study report, do not forget to review and edit the case study. Read all the information and data that you have included and make sure everything is correct. Also, check the paper for grammar and spelling mistakes. You can also use online tools such as Grammarly to make sure that there are not any grammar mistakes in your case study.
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