I should have gotten a colonoscopy today. My dad had colo-rectal cancer, my brother had some pre-cancerous stuff, so I thought it’d behoove me to get checked. But what, you ask, does this have to do with software and testing? Read on, my friend. Read on.
About 10 years ago I found out that I’m allergic to Polyethylene Glycol or PEG. I found this out because I took Miralax, whose main (and perhaps only) ingredient is PEG, and ended up in the ER with rapidly advancing hives. Soon after, I found out that PEG is in more than just Miralax. It’s an inactive ingredient in a LOT of medications (including Benadryl, which is hilarious because that means I’m allergic to Benadryl!), lotions, shampoo and conditioners, deodorants, toothpastes, etc etc. It’s also an ingredient in that vape liquid y’all are smoking, which is why I try to avoid it at all costs. Enjoy that laxative in your lungs!
Anyway, I knew that the prep for this colonoscopy would be sketchy because of this. I can’t have this main laxative ingredient. I give the nurse my medicine allergies, and explain all about PEG. “I can’t find ‘polyethylene glycol’ in the system, does it have another name?” – so I tell her Miralax and that’s in the system, so she enters it in. She later asks “ok, can you take ‘PEG 3350’ do you think?”. If you google Miralax you’ll see that it also goes by “PEG 3350″… After some back and forth, we find a medication that I can actually take for prep, and she sends me out a packet with the prescription and instructions.
Instead of getting my prescription filled a week before my appointment, like I thought about, I tried to get it filled on the Friday before my Monday morning appointment. The pharmacy doesn’t have it, but they can order it and it’ll be in on Monday afternoon. I called 6 pharmacies, all saying the same thing. The new medication is over $150, so they don’t keep it in stock. I call the nurse in a panic. She says she can find something else, asks that I remind her of my allergies to medications again, and sends over a suitable replacement prescription over to the pharmacy. This one will cost $15. Interesting (but a different topic for a different day)…
I pick up my prescription and get home, and open it up. There it is, bright blue writing on the jug: “PEG 3350”. Son of a bitch.
My pharmacy has my allergies on file. The nurse had my allergies on file. Yet I was prescribed and given the VERY THING I’m allergic to. What if I hadn’t read that, or didn’t notice, and just drank a half gallon of this shit that sent me to the hospital with just a few ounces?
Do you work on systems like this? How do they work to track allergies and conflicts with prescriptions? I REALLY want to know, so I can help this not happen again to myself or anyone else out there. This is a potentially deadly bug in the system. I will help you form a use case if you need it!