Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Jay Stahl-Herz

Jay Stahl-Herz

Forensic pathologist (NYC)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a forensic pathologist working for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

What hardware do you use?

Most forensic pathologists are unbelievably picky about what they use for autopsies. If you asked 100 people, you'd get 100 different answers. I personally use a MAC Professional MKS-105 carving knife, a #4L scalpel handle and #70 scalpel blades, 10" Russian tissue forceps, 8" curved Mayo scissors and a 6"/15cm stainless steel ruler for every case. In my kit (an eight pocket leather chef's knife roll) I also have an 18" stainless steel ruler, a 99ยข nail clipper, 6" serrated dressing forceps, a pair of disposable plastic forceps and a backup knife (Victorinox, scimitar style).

As for computers, I work for a government agency and have zero input over anything IT related. We use Windows XP desktops and I imagine all the backend stuff is Microsoft as well.

My personal computer is a 15" MacBook Pro with the optical drive swapped out for an OWC SSD.

And what software?

Our office just migrated to a new custom-designed platform based on UVIS which is called UVIS-CMS. It's written in .NET, Flash and Silverlight and is quite buggy, slow and has a craptacular UX at the moment. We're in version 1.1 now, and I've been told that there is a road map to version 4.0 already. Our labs just got a LIMS online which was supposed to interface directly with CMS, but that isn't working either at the moment. Nobody likes CMS in its current form. While I see lots of back-end improvements on the horizon in the short term, the UX will remain garbage for the foreseeable future.

I use EndNote X3 as a citation/reference manager for my scholarly work.

We use VeriPic's Digital Photo Lab/Digital Evidence Manager software package for image management - however, photo support has been rolled into CMS. We also use the Office suite for email, word processing, etc. and we use the NYC DOHMH computer system and an APC biometric fingerprint scanner for death certificates, just like all doctors in NYC do.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd contemplated getting a MAC Ultimate SKS-105 10 1/4" slicer, but it was too heavy for my liking. There are other tools I'd include in my kit if I worked in a smaller ME office that wasn't as well supplied as the office I currently work in.

As for computers, I've used a lot of the different pathology software packages out there (CoPath and PowerPath extensively, and others to a lesser degree). When you speak with the vendor representatives they'll talk about their five 9's, six-sigma and robust backends until you can't breathe. Once you start using the software, you realize within five minutes that they spent 20 minutes on the UX. I'd like a pathology case management system that has a good UI, and I think most other people in my field would too since the market leaders are sorely lacking in this department. The same goes for the CMS system. I think the fact that it's browser-based is great, but since it's not standards compliant, we're forced to use IE otherwise it won't work (although for my purposes, I don't need the Silverlight modules and Chrome suffices). The take-home message here is UI and UX are critical and no pathology software does them well.

I think it would be entirely possible to roll all the disparate bits of software into one monolithic program and that's an eventual goal with CMS. It really is a PITA at the moment using so many different pieces of software daily.

I'd also like to use OS X and LibreOffice at work but you can always dream.