Soon after Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816, it was met
with "suspicion and distrust . . . by those who were practicing medicine when
it was introduced."1 As late as the 1850s,
skeptics described the new diagnostic aid as "a dangerous instrument."1
While most agree that health care technology has advanced physicians'
ability to improve their patients' health and quality of life, there has been
considerable disagreement about which technologies to use, how much is too
much, and whether the technologies clinicians use are providing value for
the money spent. In 1827, a commentator on the stethoscope wrote, "The extent
of its usefulness is, as yet, far from being ascertained,"1
and most new technologies since then have been greeted by similar initial
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