Surgeon Loses License for Act of 'Professional Arrogance'

UK's Simon Bramhall had burned his initials into livers of 2 patients in 2013
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2018 12:55 PM CST
Updated Jan 14, 2022 9:18 AM CST
No Jail for Doc Who Burned His Initials Into Patients' Livers
Surgeon Simon Bramhall leaves Birmingham Crown Court in Birmingham, England, on Friday.   (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Update: A British surgeon who burned his initials into the livers of two patients no longer has a medical license. On Monday, the UK's Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found Simon Bramhall, 57, had broken trust with his patients through his actions during the 2013 surgeries, and that the branding had caused "significant emotional harm" to at least one of the patients, reports the BBC. This week, the MPTS ordered he be removed from the medical register, saying in a hearing that his act of "professional arrogance ... seriously undermines patients' and the public's trust and confidence in the medical profession." Our original story from 2018 follows:

A UK surgeon busted for laser-inscribing his initials into the livers of two transplant patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2013 won't go to jail for his "arrogant" act. Sky News reports 53-year-old Simon Bramhall managed to avoid time behind bars for "[betraying] the trust" of his patients, instead being hit with 120 hours of community service and a nearly $14,000 fine for the assault charges against him. "This was conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behavior," Judge Paul Farrer said Friday.

Bramhall's "handiwork" had been found in 2014 when one of the initialed livers failed (not because of what Bramhall had done), and another surgeon discovered the etchings during a second operation. Bramhall is still practicing, now as an anesthetist at another hospital. Per the Guardian, Queen Elizabeth Hospital confirmed Bramhall hadn't messed up the liver's functioning, noting in a statement that while he "made a mistake in the context of a complex clinical situation … we can reassure his patients that there was no impact whatsoever on the quality of his clinical outcomes."

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A prosecutor also noted that while Bramhall later considered his actions "naive and foolhardy," he knew during the operation "the action could cause no harm to the patient." That hasn't eased the mind of one patient, who said in a victim impact statement she felt "violated" and is still having a hard time with it all. What may have somewhat mitigated Bramhall's sentence is that fact that Farrer realized "on both occasions you were tired and stressed and … this may have affected your judgment." (More surgeon stories.)

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