A British surgeon has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault after etching his initials in patients’ organs.
Simon Bramhall is a renowned surgeon in England specializing in liver, spleen, and pancreas transplants. He’s performed hundreds of surgeries which have undoubtedly saved many lives, but the courts heard on Wednesday he left his mark in more ways than one.
Using an argon beam, a tool normally designed to prevent bleeding and sometimes illuminate areas of surgery, Bramhall etched the initials “SB” on at least two patients he saw on Feb. 9, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2013. Both patients were receiving life-saving liver transplants.
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The marks would usually disappear over time, and were only seen at all when a colleague performed a follow-up surgery and noticed them on the patients’ livers.
Following the discovery, Bramhall was suspended from his job as a consultant surgeon at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. The hospital opened a disciplinary investigation into the matter, during which Bramhall tended his resignation.
“I had a disciplinary meeting on 15 May. I was not dismissed,” he said during an interview. “I made the decision on 16 May I would hand in my notice. It is a bit raw and I have to move on.”
Shortly after his suspension, Joyce Robins of the patient advocacy group Patient Concern said, “This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book.”
Bramhall pleaded guilty to two counts of assault in Birmingham crown court but pleaded not guilty to the charges of assault causing bodily harm.
Those charges may be light considering the fact this was not an isolated incident, according to lead prosecutor Tony Badenoch. “The pleas of guilty now entered represent an acceptance that that which he did was not just ethically wrong but criminally wrong. They reflect the fact that Dr. Bramhall’s initialing on a patient’s liver was not an isolated incident but rather a repeated act on two occasions, requiring some skill and concentration"
Bramhall rose to fame in 2010 after performing a liver transplant using a liver that had been taken from a plane crash victim. Despite the fact the plane was a total wreck, victim’s liver survived unscathed and was rushed to the hospital for Bramhall’s waiting patient.
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