'Arrogant' UK surgeon burned initials onto patients' livers

Christopher Furlong  Getty Images

A surgeon who branded his initials into patients' organs has been fined £10,000 (AU$17,000).

"The Associated Press reports that a prosecutor called the case 'without legal precedent in criminal law'".

Bramhall, 53, used an argon beam coagulator, which seals bleeding blood vessels with an electric beam, to mark his initials on the organs.

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

Birmingham Crown Court was told one of the victims suffered serious psychological harm as a result of the branding, while the other was traced through hospital records but "did not wish to engage" with police.

A SURGEON who signed his initials on the livers of patients during surgery has arrived at court for sentencing.

Judge Paul Farrer QC, presiding over the case, reckoned that both liver transplant operations were hard and long, which likely made the surgeon stressed and exhausted, clouding his judgement.

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

The judge, Paul Farrer QC, ordered Bramhall to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

The court was told the surgeon's actions were a "naive and foolhardy" attempt to relieve tension in the operating theatre, but had no affect on the medical outcomes.

Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital said in a statement: "The Trust is clear that Mr Bramhall made a mistake in the context of a complex clinical situation and this has been dealt with via the appropriate authorities, including the Trust as his then employer".

"It was important to bring this prosecution, both for the victims and also to maintain the confidence of patients who put their complete trust in surgeons", said Frank Ferguson, head of special crime for the Crown Prosecution Service. "And I'm here, 11 years later and it's thanks to him".

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 some physical harm to the liver, although that's minor in terms of cell damage but it would be akin to a minor external burn".

"They reflect the fact that Dr Bramhall's initialling on a patient's liver was not an isolated incident but rather a repeated act on two occasions, requiring some skill and concentration". I think it should have been thrown out.

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