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Web Searches About Physicians

John T. Sinnott, MD; Jason P. Joseph
JAMA. 2008;300(19):2249-2250. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.657.
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To the Editor: The Commentary on Web searching for information about physicians by Drs Gorrindo and Groves1 was illuminating but incomplete. As increasing numbers of patients become astute computer users, they will use additional means of obtaining a physician's personal information. Physicians should be aware of countermeasures that can protect them from these intrusive practices.

Although the authors advised physicians to be “mindful of their Web presence” by regularly conducting searches of their names and to be aware that home addresses are often accessible, the presence of online “people searches” and appropriate preventive measures were not addressed. ZabaSearch.com and PeopleSearch.com are examples of online engines used for this type of search. Home addresses and telephone numbers are accessible by merely entering a name, and the results can be filtered by geographic areas or approximate birth year. We performed such queries on ourselves, obtaining telephone numbers, addresses, and residential street maps. With a few more mouse clicks, names of our relatives became available, along with additional records for a fee. Using a post office box for personal mail and establishing an unlisted telephone number that withholds caller ID information on outgoing calls are simple steps we recommend to limit accessibility to this information.


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November 19, 2008
Tristan Gorrindo, MD; James E. Groves, MD
JAMA. 2008;300(19):2249-2250. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.658.
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