Table 2

Role of case reports/series in the medical literature

Describe a new phenotype or genotype of diseaseThe first case report of sickle cell disease.1
Recognise a known or common manifestation of a rare diseaseLiver cirrhosis as a result of Sitosterolaemia.33
Recognise a rare manifestation of a known or common diseaseSecretory diarrhoea and hypokalaemia in colonic pseudo-obstruction.15
Describe a new pathogen (microbe, virus or environmental exposure)Discovery of AIDS was an observation of a patient with immunodeficiency-related diseases who otherwise had no reason to be immunodeficient.34
Describe unknown adverse effect of an existing drugReye syndrome and aspirin in children.35
Thalidomide and malformation of the limbs in pregnant women.36
Describe a novel treatment for a known conditionColchicine for the treatment of familial Mediterranean fever.37
Elucidate mechanisms of diseaseFunctional imaging of the brain during auditory hallucinations.38
To remind or educateCase presentations in clinicopathological conferences for postgraduate education.
Quality improvement‘Lesson of the week’ published in the British Medical Journal (do not make the same mistake as I did).