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Tuberculosis (TB) patients who do not complete treatment pose a potential public health risk. In West Yorkshire, local clinicians suspected that this risk was overestimated by the national Enhanced Tuberculosis Surveillance system. We audited patients who failed to complete treatment and were categorised as lost-to-follow-up (LTFU) between 2004 and 2008, using a combination of hand searching existing records and obtaining additional information from clinicians. In the study period 2,031 TB cases with reported outcome were notified in West Yorkshire, 23% (n=474) did not complete treatment, and 199 (42%) of those were categorised as LTFU 12 months after notification. Of these 199, 49% (n=98) remained LTFU after the audit, 51% (n=101) were re-classified to the following categories: 24% (n=47) transferred abroad, 16% (n=31) recommenced and completed treatment, 6% (n=13) transferred to another clinic in the United Kingdom (UK), and 5% (n=10) died. These patients therefore no-longer posed a public health risk. Further training for clinicians to improve accuracy of outcome reporting has been initiated. Nationally, the collection of treatment outcome data needs to be strengthened and extending the follow-up for treatment outcome monitoring should be considered.


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