Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Education

How to write a case report

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:040260
  1. Rahij Anwar, locum registrar in trauma and orthopaedics1,
  2. Huma Kabir, clinical fellow in paediatrics2,
  3. Rajesh Botchu, senior house officer in trauma and orthopaedics3,
  4. Shah Alam Khan, assistant professor4,
  5. Nitish Gogi, senior house officer in trauma and orthopaedics5
  1. 1Royal London Hospital, Bexleyheath, London DA6 8DR
  2. 2Queen Mary's Hospital, Bexleyheath, London DA6 8DR
  3. 3Maidstone Hospital, Maidstone ME16 9PQ
  4. 4Department of Orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India
  5. 5Russels Hall Hospital, Dudley DY1 2LU

Rahij Anwar and colleagues give advice on the practical details of writing case reports

Research has become an integral part of medical careers. A case report is a way of communicating information to the medical world about a rare or unreported feature, condition, complication, or intervention by publishing it in a medical journal.

When to start

Be on the look out for a case report from the start of your basic surgical or medical training. This will introduce you to the research world, and if your report is published it will be an asset to your CV. Any kind of research entails a lot of hard work and persistence. Your thought processes should be geared towards research in your postgraduate career, and you should use every opportunity you get for writing a report. So if you come across something unusual, discuss it with a consultant, particularly one who is keen on research.

Many consultants have huge amounts of material in the top drawers of their desks, waiting to be published. All they want is an enthusiastic medic who will help share their load in writing and getting it published. They are usually helpful if you ask them about this.

How to start

A senior doctor's help is a must from the beginning. He or she may know from their experience what cases are suitable for publication. Do an extensive literature search--PubMed, Medline, Ovid, Embase, and even search engines like Google will give you a vast amount of information related to the condition or feature you are after. Narrow down the search to your actual topic. If this comes up with very few search results, it means (assuming your search method is correct) that the case is rare and the report …

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