She committed each to her notes in painstaking detail and debated whether to use the word "cowboy" or "bandit" to characterize the dull, smudgy image of a horseman midgallop.
But that would be the last time the doctor would let herself consider who the man on the gurney once was -- at least for the next two hours, while Douglas ferreted out a cause of death among his organs and entrails.
Douglas and her counterpart Dr. Jimmie K. Smith, in their fourth month of a yearlong fellowship with Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller's office, have learned that surviving in the world of forensic pathology means cauterizing the heart strings -- acknowledging the sentimental details of each case and moving on to the biology beneath, the science and mechanics of death.
Douglas and Smith, both 32, are among the less than 4 percent of medical school graduates who choose this grim specialty, according to industry research.
The doctors turned down fields such as anesthesiology, pediatrics and internal or family medicine to devote their talents to diagnosing the dead and serving, as Douglas describes it, as the primary care physician for the bereaved.
The coroner's office, which serves 16 counties and conducts as many as 3,000 case investigations a year with 1,200 to 1,500 autopsies, so far has proved to be worthy training grounds for the green doctors.
Already each has performed nearly 100 autopsies at the coroner's office near University Circle in Cleveland --- about twice as many as in the four years they spent as general pathology residents at major hospitals.
And the fellows have worked on some of the region's highest-profile cases.