There’s been a lot of debate recently about Google’s effectiveness as a tool for people looking for
accurate health care information. But what about people who use the search engine in emergencies?
Recently, an employee at Duke Medical Center discovered that the indexing technology that Google Maps uses is helpfully picking up incorrect telephone numbers and displaying them along with the map showing the hospital’s location.
… the "numbers lead to particular doctor’s offices, and
they are being swamped with calls from people trying to reach the main
medical center." Bart [ the employee concerned] also said that he was told to update his business
listing, which he did but unfortunately the "other wrong ones still
It would be easy to make too much of a story like this. I tend to think that making mistakes is an inevitable part of the process of getting things right. So I’m inclined to give Google the benefit of the doubt. But the incident certainly does raise a number of questions: is this a problem that is limited to Duke Medical Center? How difficult is it for Google to correct mistakes like this once they are discovered? If I ran a hospital – or even a doctor’s office – I think I’d want to know the answers to both of these questions.
UPDATE: The answer to question No. 2 is apparently fairly quickly. As of this morning, Google seems to have fixed the error.