British surgeon fined, avoids jail after burning initials onto livers of patients

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.

Case prosecutor says he has seen no legal precedent for such an incident involving Dr. Simon Bramhall

Specialist surgeon Dr. Simon Bramhall leaves Birmingham Crown Court in England on Friday. Bramhall had pleaded guilty to two counts of assault, relating to burning his initials onto livers used in transplants, and was fined and ordered to perform community service. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

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 pleaded guilty last month to two counts of assault in a case a prosecutor called "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.

The surgeon resigned from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in 2014 after another doctor discovered what he had done when one of the transplants had failed, for reasons unrelated to the branding.

Passing sentence Friday at Birmingham Crown Court in central England, Judge Paul Farrer said Bramhall displayed "professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour."

The judge accepted that the patients were not physically harmed, but said one had suffered "extreme and enduring" psychological stress after learning what had happened.

"What you did was an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust that these patients had invested in you," the judge said.

According to a BBC report, Bramhall is still employed with the National Health Service in another city, but could face additional censure, including the possibility of losing his licence, when his case is reviewed by British medical regulators.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.