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Case Reports: Unique Terms


Some terminology and phrasing are essentially exclusive to case reports, although they may even be deemed incorrect or awkward in other contexts. Here are some examples.

We previously discussed terms that are frequently confused and misused in clinical case reports. We now review terminology and phrasing that are essentially exclusive to these reports and that may even be deemed incorrect or awkward in other contexts.

Download our free resource on terminology and phrasing in clinical case reports.

Attended by: A patient can be attended by a doctor or nurse. This usage may be unfamiliar because the term is regularly used outside of case reports to describe participation, such as in an event (“The anatomy lecture was attended by first-year medical students”).

Clinical picture: This phrase describes the sum of the clinical characteristics associated with a specific patient or condition (“Here, we describe the clinical picture of pollen allergy in adolescents”).

Experience: This term is used to describe medical professionals’ previous encounters with a condition, a method, or patients with a condition. Experience may be followed by the preposition in or with, although in is slightly more common when describing patient-related experience. For example:

  • In this case report, we describe our experience with diabetes.
  • …experience with a new glucose assessment technique.
  • …experience in 40 patients with diabetes.

Followed/follow-up: When the clinical course of a patient is monitored, particularly after treatment, the patient is said to be followed or followed up. If monitoring cannot be continued due to patient noncompliance or disappearance, the patient is lost to follow-up. Note that follow-up is acceptable on its own as a noun, although the phrase follow-up period is also acceptable.

On+method: Although they may sound grammatically incorrect, terms such as “on physical examination” and “on MRI” (“Evidence of a growth was found on MRI”) are conventional in case reports.

Operated: A patient who was operated on can be described as an operated patient. Similarly, a control can be described as a non-operated patient.

Presented with/to: These are other terms that may seem unnatural in non-clinical writing. A patient who exhibited a condition or specific symptoms is said to have presented with that condition or those symptoms. This patient may have presented to, or visited, a hospital, clinic, department, or professional for medical help.

Today’s editing tip has hopefully elucidated unique terminology used in case reports. For more information about clinical writing, please see our downloadable resource on this topic. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Tags Writing a manuscript Editing tips Case reports Clinical medicine Clinical journals Life Sciences Field specific terminology Word choice

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