A case report is a detailed narrative that describes, for medical, scientific, or educational purposes, a medical problem experienced by one or several patients. Case reports have long been an important source of new ideas and information in medicine in the discovery of what works (or does not work) and for whom. David Riley, associate editor for case reports for Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal led the development of the CARE guidelines—reporting guidelines for case reports.1
The CARE guidelines, a 13-item checklist, is available on the Equator Network, the library of essential resources for writing and publishing health research. When writing a case report, it is probably best to begin with the timeline (item 7). Practitioners generally use informal timelines when treating patients. Timelines provide an historical overview that organizes the relevant information from a patient’s case into an easy-to-view visual format. Once a timeline has been completed, the case report can be written with greater ease. Click here to download the pdf for timeline guidance.
Case reports, usually published online, should have an abstract and timeline and commonly range in length from 1500 to 2500 words not including references. We welcome the inclusion of multimedia content with submitted case report manuscripts.
Case reports are typically used to communicate unusual or noteworthy findings in clinical practice. These can include issues related to assessment or diagnosis of conditions such as new or rare diseases or unusual presentation of common diseases; novel diagnostic or assessment procedures; or a discussion of differential diagnoses. Issues related to treatment may include new treatments or established treatments in new situations; treatment of rare conditions; unique technical procedures; unexpected positive outcomes; or adverse events or unanticipated responses.
Guidelines for the Formatting of a Case Report. Please follow the CARE guidelines checklist available at http://www.care-statement.org whenever appropriate.
Title and Key Words. The title should include the words “case report” and describe the subject and focus of the case report. Include 3 to 7 key words.
Abstract. The abstract headings should follow those of the text of the case report (Introduction, Case Presentation, Discussion), and should summarize each section of the case report in 1 or 2 sentences.
Timeline. Please include a timeline showing important dates and times if possible (strongly recommended).
Main Text. The text should contain the following information (when relevant):
Case Series. If a series of cases are presented, include all patients seen or treated and describe how the patients included in your presentation were selected. The guidelines for case reports above should be followed.