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Article
June 1977

Lost to Follow-up

Author Affiliations

Columbus, Ohio

Arch Ophthalmol. 1977;95(6):1082. doi:10.1001/archopht.1977.04450060169025

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Abstract

To the Editor.–The January 1977 issue of the Archives makes it clear that the relative importance of various prognostic indicators in malignant melanomas of the choroid and ciliary body is still a matter of some debate (95:48-58, 1977; 95:63-69, 1977). I would like to call attention to one statistic frequently omitted from many such reports: the number of patients "lost to follow-up." Tracing patients who have been out of contact for a number of years is an extremely time-consuming task, but it is also an important one. Of the patients in our study (Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 79:310-320,1975) who died of metastases, the referring ophthalmologists were unaware of the fatal outcome in 47% of the cases!

Persistent follow-up efforts convinced us that it is much easier to trace the footsteps of a living person than of a dead one. Our last-ditch measures, such as contacting everyone in the

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