Qual Saf Health Care 19:162-163 doi:10.1136/qshc.2010.043885
  • Editorial

The context is the ‘news’ in healthcare improvement case reports

  1. David P Stevens
  1. Correspondence to Dr David P Stevens, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Care, 30 Lafayette Street, Lebanon, NH 03766, USA; david.p.stevens{at}

    The clinical case report is viewed with circumspection in an era of clinical evidence that is often measured by the rigour of the randomised controlled trial.1 Nevertheless, case reports have enjoyed resurgence, particularly given their accessibility provided by electronic publication.2–4 At a minimum, they broaden clinical experience from the comfort of ones study, and at their most profound, they provide fresh insights into pathogenesis and treatment.

    enhance signal; reduce noise

    Authors and editors must respect two increasingly scarce resources: readers' time and publications' space. What, then, might a more precise definition of a healthcare improvement case report add to the scholarly improvement literature? If crafted too broadly, it runs the risk of backsliding from efforts to bring order to the heterogeneity in quality improvement implementation reports.5 However, a narrowed definition could enhance signal and reduce noise in the expanding scholarly literature.

    Case report journals generally require their authors' adherence to guidelines.2–4 Vandenbrouke offers additional refinement of these guidelines with a short list of rules for useful clinical case reports.1 The list includes an imperative for a clear, single message, the explanation for how a report runs counter …

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