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January 20, 1989

Physician Advertising in 1886: Touting by Telephone

JAMA. 1989;261(3):379. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420030053017

To the Editor. —  This letter is prompted by the proliferation of cellular telephone antennas seen around hospitals in all major cities. The odds are that this instrument, with continuing modifications, will become a standard tool of the trade for physicians. As we enter this new era in communication it might be of interest to readers to recall an event in the development of the telephone relating to medicine.Ten years after Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone call in 1876,1 a brief note in The Lancet in 1886 records what I believe to be the first instance of one physician complaining about telephone advertising on the part of another physician2:I was surprised to see in the chemist's shop in a first-class watering-place on the south coast a large placard, stating: "Dr A can be communicated with from here by telephone." There was another doctor in practice nearly