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I propose to offer some remarks on the reasons for and manner of reporting cases. The writer believes that every physician can and should do something to add to the common stock of knowledge. Many are deterred by want of practice in writing out cases, others by the supposition that they are not able to communicate any thing sufficiently novel or original; to both of these classes I address myself. To those who possessing ability and opportunities, are deterred simply by indolence, I have nothing to say, paper and ink would be wasted.

Various reasons may be assigned for reporting cases of disease, and the mode adopted by the writer will depend upon which of these is most prominent in his own mind.

A case of an exceedingly rare occurring disease would many times be worthy of publication. The first announcement of the occurrence of an epidemic disease in any locality, would serve as a warning to others in the vicinity. Diphtheria, for instance, has now prevailed in several places, generally within quite circumscribed limits, now a report of its progress from one place to another, and of any peculiarities which it exhibited would be important to many and instructive to all, and might in time enable us to perfect our means of prevention and cure. Any physician ought to be able to furnish an account of what is daily passing before him, and if the communication were only a few lines in length, if true, it would be valuable.

There are certain diseases the successful treatment of which by homoeopathic medicines some consider incredible, such cases may be usefully reported even in brief, if well authenticated. Certain diseases are endemic, and the physicians practising in localities where such diseases prevail, ought to write out their experience. Even the general medical character of almost any section of our widely extended country would be interesting; and as these change with the variations in population, habits and circumstances of the people, and from other causes known and unknown, no one need be prevented from writing out his experience by the fear that some one had written of the same locality. The reports of the army officers are models for this class of writing.

Such are a few of the reasons which may be adduced for reporting cases, many others may be added, but my present object is mainly to suggest the outline rather than to fill up the picture.

Next, a few words in regard to the manner of reporting cases. Brevity is always desirable, but not to the extent of withholding important facts. Almost any case, which one would meet with in every day practice, might be reported at such length as to fill up most of the pages of a number of this Review. Such a report would include the history of the patient, constitutional predisposition, occupation, and other circumstances likely to influence his health; a minute detail of the symptoms in the order of their occurrence, the remedies indicated, the reasons for selecting those drugs used and the results. All these points and many more should occur to the physician in his examination of the patient; but in the publication of cases, it would be tedious and unnecessary to include them all. A very useful work entitled “What to observe in Medical Cases,” occupies upwards of two hundred pages, and will give one some idea of the space likely to be occupied by a complete report of a case.

I have mentioned one mode; the opposite method is to report merely the name of disease, duration, and remedies which seemed to cure. Such reports are of but moderate value, as cases which are known under the same general name differ very greatly in their real character; this consideration diminishes the value of tabular statements, unless they are accompanied by a synopsis of the cases. The best plan is, to avoid the extremes of being tedious from excessive length or useless by too great conciseness. The manner will depend, in each instance, very much upon the object the writer has in his own mind. The symptoms should be given sufficiently full to substantiate the diagnosis, and give a correct idea of the degree of severity and complications. It is useful many times to compare the pathogenesis of the drugs used and the symptoms of the case which were similar, but to do this, in every instance, would require too much space, and as every physician has the means at hand for doing it himself, it is by no means necessary.

The most attractive method for reader and writer, is to relate a case in narrative form from general recollection, but the most valuable reports are those founded upon records made at or about the time of prescribing. B.


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 02 No. 08, 1860, pages 361-363
Description: on Reporting Cases.
Author: Ahomeo02
Year: 1860
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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