'Liver branding' surgeon Simon Bramhall avoids jail, gets fine, community service

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The British surgeon who burned his initials on patients' livers using an argon beam machine got a £10,000 ($13,600) fine and a 12-month community order.

Simon Bramhall, 53, seared his initials on a patient's liver after conducting a hard transplant in a "naive and foolhardy" attempt to relieve tension, a court heard.

Simon Bramhall pleaded guilty last month to two counts of assault, in a case a prosecutor called "without legal precedent in criminal law".

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Bramhall marked his initials on the patients' livers without their consent "for no clinical reason" using a medical instrument created to seal bleeding blood vessels.

Opening the facts of the case against Bramhall, Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said one of the surgeon's victims had been left feeling "violated" and suffering psychological harm.

"The pleas of guilty now entered represent an acceptance that that which he did was not just ethically wrong but criminally wrong".

An "arrogant" surgeon who burnt his initials on two patients' livers has avoided jail.

The charges were brought more than three years after Bramhall was suspended by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Patient A said she was shocked to discover Bramhall had branded his initials on her during a life-saving operation.

The court heard the surgeon's actions were a "naive and foolhardy" attempt to relieve tension in the operating theatre during transplant operations in February and August 2013.

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A judge at the city's crown court said Bramhall, who resigned from the hospital in 2014, had "abused his power".

Undated handout photo issued by West Midlands Police of Simon Bramhall.

Frank Ferguson, head of special crime at the CPS, said Bramhall was a highly-respected surgeon to whom many patients owed their lives.

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".

He said: "I accept that on both occasions you were exhausted and stressed and I accept that this may have affected your judgement.This was conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour". "This was conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behavior".

"He knew that the action could cause no harm to the patient", said Mr Badenoch.

Bramhall will now face the General Medical Council to find out whether he will be permanently prevented from practicing medicine or will be allowed to resume at some point.

Speaking after Bramhall's suspension, Patient Concern's Joyce Robins said: "This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book".

Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital said Mr Bramhall had made "a mistake".

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