Liver-brand­ing sur­geon fined £10k

Irish Examiner - - World News - Matthew Cooper

An “ar­ro­gant” con­sul­tant sur­geon who “be­trayed the trust” of his pa­tients by burn­ing his ini­tials on to the liv­ers of two un­con­scious trans­plant pa­tients has been fined £10,000.

Si­mon Bramhall, 53, used an ar­gon beam ma­chine to “write” his ini­tials on the or­gans of two anaes­thetised vic­tims in Fe­bru­ary and Au­gust 2013 while work­ing at Birm­ing­ham’s Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal.

A judge at the city’s Crown Court said Bramhall, who re­signed from the hos­pi­tal in 2014, had car­ried out an “an abuse of power and a be­trayal of trust”.

The con­sul­tant, who was given a for­mal warn­ing by the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil (GMC) last Fe­bru­ary, ad­mit­ted two counts of as­sault by beat­ing last month af­ter pros­e­cu­tors ac­cepted his not guilty pleas to charges of as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm.

Judge Paul Far­rer also sen­tenced Bramhall to a 12month com­mu­nity or­der with 120 hours of un­paid work. He said: “Both of the (trans­plant) op­er­a­tions were long and dif­fi­cult. I ac­cept that on both oc­ca­sions, you were tired and stressed and I ac­cept that this may have af­fected your judg­ment. This was con­duct born of pro­fes­sional ar­ro­gance of such mag­ni­tude that it strayed into crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

“What you did was an abuse of power and a be­trayal of trust that these pa­tients had in­vested in you.

“I ac­cept that you didn’t in­tend or fore­see any­thing but the most triv­ial of harm would be caused.”

Pros­e­cu­tor Tony Bade­noch said one of the two vic­tims ini­tialled by the world-renowned sur­geon had been left feel­ing “vi­o­lated” and suf­fer­ing on­go­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal harm.

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 donor liver failed around a week later — for rea­sons un­con­nected to its im­plan­ta­tion — and another sur­geon spot­ted Bramhall’s ini­tials on the or­gan.

A photograph of the 4cmhigh 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.

Mr Bade­noch said of the ini­tial trans­plant op­er­a­tion: “Mr Bramhall had to work ex­cep­tion­ally hard and use all of his skill to com­plete the op­er­a­tion.

“At the end of the op­er­a­tion, he per­formed a liver biopsy us­ing the ar­gon beam co­ag­u­la­tor, and then used it to burn his ini­tials.”

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

Si­mon Bramhall wrote his ini­tials on two pa­tients’ liv­ers.

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