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Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Surgeon left initials on patients' livers

Surgeon left initials on patients' livers

A well-known and respected surgeon who admitted burning his initials onto the livers of two patients during transplant operations has been sentenced.

Last month, Bramhall pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating, after prosecutors accepted his not guilty pleas to charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm relating to the patients.

Simon Bramhall used an argon beam machine to burn his initials on to the livers of two anesthetized patients in February and August 2013.

Bramhall, who is world-renowned in his profession of specializing in liver, spleen and pancreas surgery, later resigned from his job at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2014.

He said: "This was conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour".

Patient A's donor organ failed a week after the operation - for reasons unconnected to its implantation - and another surgeon spotted Bramhall's initials "SB" branded on the organ. "I accept that you didn't intend or foresee anything but the most trivial of harm would be caused".

The consultant has been sentenced to a 12-month community order and fined £10,000 at Birmingham Crown Court. "He also said that in hindsight this was naive and foolhardy - a misjudged attempt to relieve the tension in theatre", said prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC.

"He knew that the action could cause no harm to the patient.

The criminal law applies equally to everybody, and although these are a unique set of circumstances, this was a really important case - both for the witnesses and the victims involved - but also to maintain the confidence of the patients who put their complete trust in surgeons".

A nurse who saw the initialling queried what had happened and Bramhall was said to have replied: "I do this".

Asked about the doctor's motive after the court hearing, Mr Ferguson said: "Clearly he did not anticipate that it would be seen". "There was no impact whatsoever on the quality of his clinical outcomes".

"The first point is it's a crime and the second point is the aggravating features are that it was very vulnerable victims, in the sense there is no greater trust than the trust which a patient places in a surgeon when they are having an operation". I think it should have been thrown out.

Patient A declined Bramhall's offer of an apology after the "unbelievable and farcical" allegations emerged in late 2013 and opted to report the matter to the General Medical Council and the police.

A large number of former patients of Bramhall turned up at court to show their support and gratitude to him.

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