Case reports are an excellent tool for sharing educational experiences related to clinical practice. From the evaluation of a patient’s history and physical examination, to thorough consideration of a differential diagnosis, selection of a treatment plan, and outcomes of different treatment modalities, brief notes in the form of a case report format provide a mechanism in which to document and share these experiences. This becomes indispensable in instances where, for example, there is an unanticipated yet informative outcome or adverse side effect observed in the course of treating a patient or from one who has an anomalous presentation or illness. The famous case reports of the first human heart transplant by Christian Barnard (1967) , speech impairment in patients with left hemispheric brain lesions published by Paul Broca (1861) , and the teratogenicity of a multitude of compounds are some of many illustrious examples. These crucial observations and records stimulate the flow of medical and scientific knowledge among clinicians and researchers so as to improve the effective and safety of medical practice and arouse awareness, inquiry, and further investigation.
The use of case reports in medical education to train the future cadre of medical professionals is well-documented. Case reports in BMC Research Notes will provide a home in which to document different approaches to the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of common clinical conditions as well as rare case presentations and diseases. These cases can be discussed at grand rounds to foster dialogue and discussion among senior healthcare professionals with those in training to learn of different clinical case experiences. While RCTs provide one to two limited key messages from the outcomes of the study, case reports now offered by the Journal document the full picture of clinical care on a case-by-case basis.
The BMC Series medical journals (http://www.biomedcentral.com/authors/bmcseries) already publish case reports that contribute to the dissemination of medical knowledge or draw attention to the need for change in clinical practice or diagnostic/prognostic approaches. BioMed Central also publishes a specific case reports journal, Journal of Medical Case Reports (http://www.jmedicalcasereports.com/about), which has similar criteria for publication to those of the BMC Series. In keeping with the inclusive ethos of BMC Research Notes, it is envisioned that well-reported, ethically and scientifically sound, peer-reviewed case reports which may not meet these criteria will also have educational value.
Continuing BMC Research Notes’ reputation for innovation, a new model for peer review of case report articles will also be introduced. The nature of case reports implies that “further experiments” are never possible and “additional analyses needed” are uncommon. In light of this, case reports submitted to the journal will be reviewed by a single specialist Associate Editor, who will provide a report and make a decision. We anticipate that this will enable rapid decision making whilst still providing a thorough peer review process, and make for a smooth publication experience for authors.