Google Maps Sends Health Emergencies To Wrong Location

Feb 21, 2007 • 2:25 pm | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

EarlPearl at SEO Refugee Forums notified me of a Google Groups thread where an employee at Duke Medical Center named Bart said a search for Duke Medical Center in Google Maps returns "two different entries in the top 10 results, neither of which is correct."

He explains that 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 also said that he was told to update his business listing, which he did but unfortunately the "other wrong ones still remain" incorrect. So the pattern continues.

Here is a screen shot the results:


Out of curiosity, I called the first number in the list. I asked the person if they get a lot of calls asking if this is Duke Medical Center. The nice lady said yes and explained they are trying to fix the problem, but didn't know more.

The problem with most yellow page directories and even infoUSA and Dun and Bradstreet like databases is that they are out of date. But they are not such an issue when they are used on a limited basis. When it comes to Google, people use Google a lot more than they use an infoUSA database.

To be clear, I am not sure if this is an infoUSA type of issue. Google can and probably does, crawl the open web to harvest these numbers. For example the Duke Health Locations page has a listing of offices and numbers to call. But they clearly label each one out. I was chatting with a friend who pointed out, ironically, Duke uses Google Maps on their hospital location page. Note, that this search shows the actual hospital (the one at their hospital location page) as letter F in the results.

There must be an easier way for medical centers, police offices, other governmental agencies and emergency agencies to update their information on Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and the like. Because right now, this is simply not working.


  • Report error link on this page
  • State on the page that the numbers may not be 100% accurate
  • Educate emergency agencies on how to update all, not some, of their listings
  • Be more proactive with certain listings over others

I know these listings change but there has to be a better solution.

Forum discussion at SEO Refugee Forums and Google Groups.

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02/21/2007 08:01 pm

Barry, thanks for the link and the shout out but I think your title is misleading and the Digg submission is even worse. The issue here is phone calls, and I'm guessing that any life or death emergencies usually get called in via 911 not the hospitals phone number searched for on Google.

Barry Schwartz

02/21/2007 08:07 pm

Yes, the issue is the phone calls. I did not mislead anyone. I did not write the digg title, someone else did.


02/21/2007 08:30 pm

Barry, sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you had written the digg submission. I actually enjoyed the article, I just didn't like the alarmist title on Digg. I seriously doubt anyone is going to die because Google screwed up the phone numbers. No harm intended (and I PM'ed ya in the forum).

Barry Schwartz

02/21/2007 08:36 pm

Yea, but if someone did die - now that would be crazy.


02/21/2007 08:55 pm

Guys: To the extent a medical center and/or a doctor's office gets an enormous number of wrong numbers it makes it impossible to operate effectively and efficiently. If the G maps insertion is so powerful a reference source that it adversely affects this entity that is a real problem. Lets hope Google can fix this one immediately


02/21/2007 09:06 pm

Earl, that's a good point as well. It's one thing to mix up two home phone numbers but screwing info on a hospital is just wrong. So pretty much my original comment was wrong. Today is simply not my day. P.S. Barry, I've clicked the Yes option on saving my info, but it doesn't seem to stay there when I come back to comment.

Michael Wales

02/21/2007 10:40 pm

Anyone that falls into a worse condition and/or dies because they used Google during a medical emergency deserves it - let natural selection take its course. 911 is for medical emergencies - not Google.


02/22/2007 12:18 am

Google has corrected the information for the Duke information today. I still see lousy erroneous information elsewhere. Looks like Google can make a change when they want to or are facing a big crisis. Other than that though the same erroneous information is pervasive throughout google maps!

Jim Woods

10/03/2007 10:43 pm

On Google Earth and on google maps, my address, 205 Park Grove Drive shows up as being on the southeast curve of our street while, in fact, it is at the southwest curve closer to Ave Du Grand Bois.


08/04/2010 01:36 pm

Happen to me too...m went for interview..20 min walking distant..found thr were no company,called company ppl they told u r many miles far opposite to location..I came back to home..thn hired a taxi,paid fortune,so after interview walked till home...1 whole hour..result...blisters on foot..and lesson..Never ever trust on googlr map...

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