Clinical case reporting
General terms and conditions
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Step 1: General rules
We’ll provide you with all the information you need to know before writing a clinical case report. Like any clinical study, a case report has to follow ethical and scientific standards. To write a high-quality clinical case report, you should inform yourself about current data protection regulations and the CARE guidelines.
You will find an overview of all important documents to download below.
Become the first author of a compelling case report
To apply for the Reckeweg Clinical Case Award, you should post a case about treatment with multitarget therapy on the preprint platform or publish it in the peer-reviewed medical journal during the submission period. You should be the first author, and the case should come from your registered clinical practice. The clinical case can cover any aspect of human or veterinary medicine.
All cases must be thoroughly anonymised
Omit any identifying patient data. All authors must follow the rules for anonymisation. You will find more details about anonymisation below.
Create a case report manuscript with the CARE-writer™
You can write the case report starting on your own, without assistance from us. However, we strongly recommend using the CARE-writer™ to comply with scientific standards for case report writing. This online tool was developed to include all requirements for a well-written scientific case report and is free to use.
Submit a clinical case in English or your native language
You may write your clinical case in English or your native language, though you should keep in mind that English is considered the language of science worldwide, and more people will be able to read your work in English. Also, regardless of which language you choose to write in, an abstract in English is mandatory.
It is vital to understand that clinical case reports are stories about single individuals. By definition, they provide information about health issues and may contain personal data. Current laws in Europe, the USA, and many other regions protect people by restricting access to their personal data.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), America’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), California’s Consumer Privacy Act, the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA), and similar regulations impose substantial penalties for breaching data privacy. Because medical records contain personal patient data, they are protected by these laws. Information from medical records cannot be published without consent in a case report or any other medium, such as a webpage or social blog.
Clinicians who have access to patients’ medical records and are using them to write a clinical case report have the responsibility to comply with these regulations and ensure that they are not breaching patients’ data privacy!
How can I ensure that I’m not breaking the law?
If you’re a healthcare professional and want to write a scientific clinical case report to publish, you must do TWO things:
- Inform patients that you want to write and publish a case report based on their medical records, and ask for written consent. Such consent should be written in the patient’s preferred language, be understandable to the patient, explain how the patient’s personal health information will be used, and inform of possible confidentiality issues. Both the patient and the healthcare professional must sign the consent document.
- Anonymise all personal data in your case report. Anonymisation is the process of removing any personal data from your case report in such a way that nobody, even the person involved, could identify the patient. This process includes removing all personal data, such as names, birthdate, height, weight, ethnicity, address, country, city, hospital, and gender. Particular attention should be paid to removing identifiable information from images, such as photos of patients or distinctive parts of their body, x-rays, laparoscopic images, ultrasound images, pathology slides, and lab data.
Are there any tools that can help me?
You will find patient consent form templates for download in German, English, Spanish and Russian below.
You can use this or any other similar template to obtain patient consent, but you MUST have it in your files BEFORE submitting your case to a publisher or a journal. A publisher or a journal may ask you to provide the written patient consent to confirm that you have obtained it.
To make it easier for you, we provide a checklist you can use to assess whether your case report still contains potential personal data in the images.
Please be warned, however, that this checklist does not constitute legal advice and does not remove your responsibility to ensure that the case is appropriately anonymised so that patients cannot be identified under any circumstances.
Where can I find additional information?
For additional information, see these Open Access resources:
- Rafelson W, Bruno J, Dizon DS. Protecting patient privacy in narratives: The Lifespan-Brown Checklist for Appropriate Use of Patient Narratives. Oncologist. 2019;24(3):285–7. doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2018-0659.
- The Royal College of Radiologists. Guidance on the use of patient images obtained as part of standard care for teaching, training and research. London: The Royal College of Radiologists, 2017.
- TransCelerate Biopharma. Protection of personal data in clinical documents – a model approach. TransCelerate Biopharma, 2016.
- Cornock M. How the writers of case reports need to consider and address consent and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Case Rep Womens Health. 2018;19(Jul):e00060. doi:10.1016/j.crwh.2018.e00060.
- Neavyn M, Murphy C. Coming to a consensus on informed consent for case reports. J Med Toxicol. 2014;10(4):337–9. doi:10.1007/s13181-014-0421-4.
By offering the Reckeweg Clinical Case Award, Heel GmbH supports healthcare professionals in publishing outstanding clinical work illustrating disease management with multitarget therapies, seeking to improve patient-centred care.
Heel sponsors the €5,000 Reckeweg Award for the Best Clinical Case Report in Multitarget Therapies, which is given for excellent clinical case reporting that educates healthcare professionals about multitarget treatment options. The international review panel assesses all applications and selects winners based on the predefined criteria outlined below. In certain circumstances determined by the review panel, awards may also be shared.
The €5,000 grant will be awarded for scientifically published or posted clinical cases that report on the use of multitarget therapies in everyday clinical practice. The Reckeweg Clinical Case Award is based on the following criteria:
- Readability. The clinical case should be easy to read. Exhaustive explanations, very long sentences, and texts overloaded with professional jargon make case report tedious and exhausting to read. A good case report should have a balance between comprehensiveness of information and simplicity of the most critical points to understand for the reader.
- Formal compliance with the CARE guidelines. Authors should submit a completed CARE checklist to demonstrate that their report is written according to the CARE guidelines. The CARE checklist can be downloaded below.
- Level of detail. The patient narrative should provide sufficient detail for healthcare professionals to understand the course of events, diagnostic challenges, and dosage regimen in the case. Images or tables may be added to give more information to readers.
- Scientific rationale. In sufficient detail, the author(s) should explain the background to the report, the health issue addressed, the treatment options available, and why the case may be of interest. This information should be reflected in the introduction and discussion sections of the manuscript.
- Educational value for healthcare practitioners. The clinical case must explain how the information reported contributes to current medical knowledge. It should provide key points discussing the case’s generalisability and application in other settings.
Who should apply?
Application is open to all licensed healthcare professionals worldwide (human or veterinary). Employees of Heel GmbH and affiliated companies are not eligible to enter.
Applicants should submit the following:
- A few sentences explaining why they submit the case.
- The DOI of their published or posted case report.
- A completed CARE checklist as a PDF.
- A signed authorship and copyright consent form.
Authors should complete the application via the submission portal on this website.
All applications will be checked for completeness before being accepted for evaluation by the international review panel. Check the submission portal for more information.
To be considered for the review process, the application must:
- Be complete (DOI, authorship and copyright consent, and CARE checklist annotated with page numbers, not simply checks or crosses).
- Raise no ethical concerns (all patient data are anonymised, and there is a statement confirming that patients’ written informed consent has been obtained).
- Provide author contact information.
In a separate email, authors will be notified whether or not their submission was accepted. Only official documents, which can be downloaded from the submission portal, will be accepted. Applications containing old forms or materials other than the CARE checklist and authorship and copyright consent form will be automatically rejected.
The deadline for submission is December 31, 2021.
Award review panel
The submitted applications will be assessed by an international panel of experts according to the award criteria. After closure of the submission period, the panel will reach its decision by August 30, 2022.
Overview of important documents for application
1. Clinical case report
The case report must be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or posted on the preprint platform during the submission period. It should describe a case that involves treatment with multitarget therapy. You must be the first author. For application, you will need to provide a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) assigned by the publisher.
2. Completed CARE checklist
This checklist, which includes all the information a case report must contain to meet scientific standards, is downloadable from the CARE guidelines website. Authors should provide the page numbers where the items can be found in the appropriate column of the checklist. The annotated checklist should be submitted as a PDF.
3. Signed authorship and copyright consent form
To participate, authors should give their consent. By signing this document, you confirm that you are the first author and have publication rights.
4. Signed patient consent & anonymization form
The patient must give his consent to the case report. We provide examples of such patient consent forms below in four different languages. You, as an author, are responsible for the patient’s permission and anonymization of personal data.
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