Google: Rene Laennec
The Google Doodle for Rene Laennec shows an early stethoscope and a modern stethoscope in use. It is only shown in selected countries.
In 1816, I was consulted by a young woman laboring under general symptoms of diseased heart, and in whose case percussion and the application of the hand were of little avail on account of the great degree of fatness. The other method just mentioned [direct auscultation] being rendered inadmissible by the age and sex of the patient, I happened to recollect a simple and well-known fact in acoustics, … the great distinctness with which we hear the scratch of a pin at one end of a piece of wood on applying our ear to the other. Immediately, on this suggestion, I rolled a quire of paper into a kind of cylinder and applied one end of it to the region of the heart and the other to my ear, and was not a little surprised and pleased to find that I could thereby perceive the action of the heart in a manner much more clear and distinct than I had ever been able to do by the immediate application of my ear.
Laennec had discovered that the new stethoscope was superior to the normally used method of placing the ear over the chest, particularly if the patient was overweight. A stethoscope also avoided the embarrassment of placing the ear against the chest of a woman.
Using the stethoscope
Before using a stethoscope, the practitioner must tell the patient what he or she wants to assess and seek permission (NMC, 2002). The patient should be placed in a comfortable position: either sitting upright leaning forward for cardiorespiratory assessment or lying supine or lateral for abdominal auscultation.