Ethical Rules For Case Report Submission | Open Access Journals

Clinical and Medical Case Reports

ISSN: 2684-4915

Open Access

Ethical Rules For Case Report Submission

The unfettered exchange and dissemination of information is a necessary precondition to advancement and progress in both medical practice and science. The forum for such an exchange is frequently within the confines of the ever-expanding medical literature and relevant scientific journals. Case reports are an essential element of this information exchange.

Case reports can be conceptualized as a formulized description of a particular individual’s history with a disease presentation and progress. The impetus to write and publish a case report rests on the insight that a particular case offers with respect to issues relating to diagnosis, therapy, evolution, pathogenesis or outcome. To warrant publication, such observations must be in some way novel and serve to advance our understanding of the disease reported. Frequently, the case report may serve as a catalyst to adjust our thinking regarding a disease and, thus, precipitate new approaches either clinically or in research efforts. In addition to being a building block of clinical care and research, case reports are, for many health professional trainees, the initial foray into the academic world. A rewarding introduction can lead to a career featuring inquisitiveness and ongoing effort to expand our knowledge base.

Case reports bridge the often-arbitrary separation between caregiving and research. Key elements of successful caregiving with respect to health and disease include reciprocal information exchange, respect, support, partnership and enablement. These elements should guide the process of the case report and are the context in which the relevant ethical issues are considered. It should be emphasized that the individual writing the case report has a primary obligation, as a health care provider, to the subject of the case report. The professional obligations of this role are paramount and should never be compromised by expediency or academic gain. Ethical concerns about informed consent and confidentiality are best protected by four overlapping and non-mutually exclusive sources the individual, the caregiver and/or author of the case report, the institution where care is provided, and the journal to which the case report is submitted for publication. A reasonable approach may be to designate a member of the research ethics board to review case reports written by members of an institution to ensure that consent and confidentiality issues are respected. This ‘seal of approval’ could be used to ensure ethical conduct at the time of submission of a case report to a journal for publication. Journals may add an additional final measure of protection by requesting prior local review before consideration.

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