Jessica Koos, MLS, MSEd, AHIP
Health Sciences Librarian
Health Sciences Library
Stony Brook University
McGraw-Hill’s Case Files® Collection contains clinical case scenarios presented in the form of short paragraphs, followed by interactive questions (either short answer or multiple choice). The correct answers to each question are then provided, along with detailed explanations about how these answers were determined. Each case contains additional information in sections titled Approach, Clinical Pearls, References, and Comprehension Questions. The Approach section includes background information, definitions, clinical considerations, and tables, if appropriate. Clinical Pearls are succinct takeaways learned from the case. Comprehension Questions are additional interactive follow-up questions.
This resource is targeted primarily at medical students, residents, and faculty. Medical students and residents can use it as a study guide to enhance and test their knowledge in specific subject areas; faculty can incorporate the cases and questions into curricula, examinations, and more.
The content is based on 23 different Case Files® books organized into three broad categories: Basic Science, Clinical Rotation, and Post-Graduate. Basic Science contains the subcategories of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology. The Clinical Rotation category covers Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, Medical Ethics & Professionalism, Neurology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery. The Post-Graduate category includes Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Critical Care, Geriatrics, Gynecologic Surgery, High-Risk Obstetrics, Medical Ethics & Professionalism, and Orthopedic Surgery. Subjects that appear in both the Clinical Rotation and Post-Graduate categories contain the same content; for example, Cardiology has identical content in both categories.
While detailed information about the authors of Case Files® is not readily available, the names and credentials of each of the book authors are provided. The majority of the authors have MDs and include residents as well as faculty members. Some authors have MD/PhDs. The editorial process, including how often material is updated, is unknown.
There are several options for accessing the content once logged in. Users can select from either the Basic Science, Clinical Rotations, or Post-Graduate categories, and then select a narrower category based on the Case Files® books. Users then have the option of selecting cases by topic or number in order to anonymize the topic prior to reviewing the case. Users also can see which cases have been unopened, viewed, and completed.
Specific terms can be entered in a search box located at the top of the screen. Users can elect to search only Case Files® content or perform a federated search across all McGraw-Hill Medical sites; however, the search will only retrieve resources users are able to access through their institutional subscriptions. There is no advanced search feature, and the only supported Boolean operator is “AND.” After a term is entered, the results are displayed by “semantic tagging and text matching.” There are several filters available on the left side of the screen to narrow the results further. A dropdown box allows users to specify if a term is a keyword, title, author, or ISBN. The results also can be filtered by format, textbooks, topics, and sites.
Also included with each case study is an audio feature, where users can listen to the cases and information rather than just read it. This can aid in comprehension as well as accessibility.
The case description page has an option for users to email their answers to themselves or others. A dashboard includes favorite items users may have marked, folders to create custom collections, and recently viewed items, as well as a listing of resources subscribed to by the user’s institution, and a link to more information about CMEs, which are available only to family physicians. Users can track their progress in completing CMEs through this portal.
Because Case Files® is based on a collection of books, it feels more like an electronic book than an interactive practice resource. Besides allowing users to anonymize the cases and track their progress, it may have been helpful to include more visual material, such as interactive patient photos or a patient examination component, to improve the comprehensiveness of the information.
Overall, the greatest strength of this resource is its potential to deliver the knowledge gained from individual patient encounters. However, as indicated in the notice at the beginning of each topic, it is important to double-check the currency and accuracy of the information. This is concerning, since students may not recognize incorrect information. Rather than serving as a somewhat static resource, it would be helpful if the material were reviewed and updated regularly.
Case Files® is available only through institutional subscriptions; individual subscriptions are not currently available. Pricing and subscription models vary among institutions. Users can gain access to the resource through a proxied link, which is generally found on institutions’ library websites.
Usage data provided by the vendor includes the total number of content retrievals as well as the total number of searches. The number of content retrievals is further broken down by the specific resources so that subscribing institutions can see exactly which topics are being accessed by their users.
This product most likely will benefit institutions that provide clinical education. While the product seems to focus on schools of medicine, it may also benefit nursing and physician assistant programs since these professions interact with patients in a similar way. Faculty from these types of programs can benefit from this resource as well, using it to bolster their current teaching materials.
This resource can be a valuable addition to a library’s collection in serving the needs of its clinical students and helping them prepare for board examinations. Students’ exposure to actual patients is limited due to the time constraints of their education, but this resource allows them to further expand their knowledge beyond in-person patient experiences. This can help ensure their success as clinicians, through exposing them to a wide variety of potential patient encounters.
McGraw Hill Education, About Case Files Collection, [cited 2020 4/10/2020]; Available from:
McGraw Hill Education, About Search, [cited 2020 4/13/2020]; Available from: