Case Study Reviews as a Valuable Learning Tool for Medical Students




Lane, Cassidy
Mcminn, Brooke


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Background: Review of "Case 9-2004: An 18-Year-Old Man with Respiratory Symptoms and Shock" published in the New England Journal of Medicine provided second year medical students with valuable insight into the complexities of patient care. Case Information: The patient initially presented as an outpatient with non-specific symptoms including fever, myalgia, and cough and was treated for a bacterial infection. The patient decompensated upon admission to the hospital 5 days after presentation of his initial symptoms. He continued to decline as physicians placed him on various medications for pain, hypotension, bacterial infections, and multiorgan failure. The patient expired 32 hours after presentation to the hospital. Despite a negative rapid flu test upon presentation to the ER, autopsy results revealed an Influenza A infection that caused a systemic response, ultimately leading to shock and death. Conclusions: Case studies are vital learning tools for medical students and clinicians alike. Medical students in particular tend to spend much of their time memorizing diseases, symptoms, lab tests, and medications individually. It isn't until they are thrust into the clinic that they are able to see how all of these factors interact with one another to determine the patient's outcome. Having pre-clinical medical students to review case studies allows them to gain a greater understanding of the complexities of patient care and allows them to see how physicians respond to the various challenges that are presented. This builds valuable critical thinking skills that will better prepare them for clinical rotations.