Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Testing and Medicine

Lately I have been thinking about testing in areas outside programming. This time I will tackle the area of Medicine.


One problem is that you can’t do a unit test without killing the subject. The issue is that you can’t isolate your heart from the rest of the system. It is an area where you are doing maintenance, Doctors don’t build bodies; they have to keep the bodies designed by God or Nature in good working order. Sure they have a limited opportunity to do some refactoring using surgery and medication; there is no Green Field Medicine. It is all maintenance work.

Medical tests appear to be closer to code metrics that the kind of testing we do in software. For example, we know that too much cholesterol in the blood is a bad thing that people with too much cholesterol are more likely to have heart attacks. Does cholesterol cause heart attacks? I don’t know, but based on what we know right now, we need to keep it down below a certain level. Same for blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. There is a correlation between what we are measuring and what we care about. Just like too many GO TO statements and long procedures tend to appear in rotten code.


I got a bad cough in September and it has continued through November. I have seen more doctors in the last 2 ½ months than I have in the last 10 years.