Through this assignment, you will
learn to write in a professional style with reasonable accuracy;
have a clearer idea about the purpose and structure of a case report;
appreciate the need to vary your tone and register to suit the audience, purpose and mode of communication.
In groups of 3 to 4, write up a case report of no more than 1,200 words, accompanied with an abstract of no more than 120 words. Use Times New Roman typeface, 12-point font size, double-line spacing.
The report may discuss a case of i) a rare disease, ii) unusual symptoms of a known disease, iii) unusual outcomes or complications of an intervention, iv) notable effects of a nursing practice, medical treatment or procedure, or v) any other clinical situations or incidents of interest.
The case being discussed could be real or fictitious; students are encouraged to make up the details to make the case sound more genuine and interesting for discussion.
Structure of the report
The main purpose of this case report is to present a patient case and discuss it with reference to relevant literature. Depending on the topic chosen, diagnosis and recommendations may or may not be included, but it is necessary to include the case presentation with some graphical presentation of data. The focus is on the quality of the writing, not on the application of medical knowledge, so it is not necessary to include an extensive literature review.
The report should include the following sections:
ABSTRACT Brief overview: why the case is important, case details, clinical impact on literature. It should stand alone and attract prospective readers’ attention.
It should be written last after the report is completed.
INTRODUCTION Setting the scene: general overview of the condition (disorders, relevant clinical signs to introduce the case), brief review of literature to contextualize the case.
Mention why your case report is important, for example, as a possibility to consider in assessing a patient presenting with particular symptoms.
CASE PRESENTATION Description: relevant background information (basic demographic details, health history, family history, current problems, disorders, clinical signs relevant to contextualization of the case, care details such as tests conducted and drugs applied).
Narrate your case in a way that is easy and enjoyable to follow. The general approach is to describe the history, examination findings, investigations and treatment in that order, without the headings. Avoid any unnecessary details, and only mention the important positive and negative findings from each part of the clinical assessment. Include one or two images/figures/tables to keep the reader engaged.
DISCUSSION (and CONCLUSION) Commentary: put the case in context to explain results and medical decisions, recommend future care based on present results, and/or state the educational message.
This is the selling point of your case report, as a well-written argument will convince your readers why your case is worthy of their attention. Start by briefly expanding on your introduction, explaining why your particular case is important and of interest to the reader. Next, sum up the current literature related to your case. Describe what has already been reported about your topic, and what the main hypotheses and theories are that explain the clinical findings. Finally, describe in detail the message that you are conveying through your report. This may be in line with current thinking, but it may also be contrary to popular belief. Focus on the lessons that should be learnt from your experience, and how this affects future clinical practice.
Sample case reports
The samples provided are published case reports on different topics following different formatting conventions. They include sections/parts that need not be included in your case report, and the length and depth of their discussions are beyond the requirements of this assignment. However, they provide useful references as they exemplify how cases should be presented and how relevant literature could be used in the introduction and the discussion.