Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Surgeon who burned initials into livers of two patients fined £10000

Surgeon who burned initials into livers of two patients fined £10000

A British surgeon who burned his initials onto patients' livers during transplant operations has been fined the equivalent of $17,100 Cdn and ordered to perform community service.

Simon Bramhall, 53, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and fined £10,000 (NZ$18,900) on Friday (local time) after pleading guilty to two assault charges, but denying more serious charges of causing "actual bodily harm".

A photograph of the 4cm-high branding was taken on a mobile phone and Bramhall, who now works for the NHS in Herefordshire, later admitted using the argon beam coagulator to mark Patient A's liver.

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.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Farrer QC reportedly said: "Both of the (transplant) operations were long and hard".

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Judge Paul Farrer told Bramhall: "This was conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour".

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said one of the victims, referred to in court as Patient A, received a donor organ in 2013 in a life-saving operation carried out by Bramhall.

But the surgeon used the device to burn his initials "SB" into the livers of two patients.

"I accept that on both occasions you were exhausted and stressed and I accept that this may have affected your judgment", the judge continued.

"And no greater vulnerability than that of a patient who's under general anaesthetic and the breach of that trust and the abuse of that power were aggravating features that led us to conclude it was the right thing to do to take this case forward".

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Defense attorneys argued Bramhall's acts were a "naïve and foolhardy" attempt on his part to relieve the tension of multiple operations, the BBC reported. "I accept that you didn't intend or foresee anything but the most trivial of harm would be caused".

A nurse who witnessed the surgeon's actions said she had asked him what he was doing; he is said to have replied: "I do this".

"There was medical evidence about that that it may have lasted up to a couple of months in the way that a minor burn might do on external skin".

"However, we can reassure his patients that there was no impact whatsoever on the quality of his clinical outcomes".

Doctors have said that burning organs in this way would not have damaged them or affected the health of the patients. I think it should have been thrown out.

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Former patients of Bramhall offered their support for the surgeon.

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