Writing a Publishable Case Report

Anyone writing a case report for publication should follow the CARE Checklist, available here. These step-by-step guidelines identify the components necessary for a clear and robust case report. In addition, here are 3 other suggestions based on deficiencies we often see in submissions to the Ochsner Journal.

Tip #1: Be specific.

Provide the dose, frequency, and duration of any medication mentioned in the paper. Always provide units—not only for medications but also for vitals, lab values, and ages. Provide reference ranges for all lab values.

Tip #2: Provide a clear and accurate timeline.

A good first step is to create a timeline to guide the writing of the case. Tell the patient’s story chronologically. Important questions to answer are (1) How long had the patient been experiencing symptoms? (2) What medical history is relevant? (3) What was the diagnostic and treatment course? (4) What was the outcome?

Tip #3: Explain the clinical relevance.

To increase the chances that your case report will be accepted for publication, clearly explain why it should be published: (1) Why did you write this case report? (2) What value would this case add to the literature?

To ensure patient privacy is respected, many journals now require signed patient consent forms for case report publication. Check your target journal’s author instructions for case report submission requirements.

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