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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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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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