Sunday, November 15, 2009

Invention of diseases

Invention of the stethoscope by René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec in the 19th century was a major breakthrough in doctor's ability to detect early signs of a disease. It came at a price, though. In "History of Medicine" Jacalyn Duffin writes:

Prior to the stethoscope, patients could not be sick unless they felt sick. After the stethoscope it was possible to have a serious disease and feel fine. The patient was no longer the chief authority on his or her own well-being.

In the future, you won't even need to be alive to be sick. That is, technologies for genetic analysis will enable doctors to find baby's diseases even before he or she is conceived.

Timeline for "stethoscope". Retrieved from Google, on 11/15/09.

As a side note, I like the technique of showing the change in control structure "before" and "after" the invention. It brings up the point that new diagnostics technologies are not only about early detection, but also about who has the control over medical decisions in the healthcare system.

Update: a stethoscope iPhone application.

tags: health, detection, control, niche construction, invention, innovation, problem , dilemma

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