Surgeon who branded livers of unconscious patients struck off medical register
A consultant surgeon who burned his initials on to the livers of two unconscious patients has been struck off the medical register.
Simon Bramhall admitted two charges of assault by beating at Birmingham Crown Court in December 2017 after using an argon beam machine to brand the organs while working as a liver transplant surgeon at the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The 57-year-old was given a community order and fined £10,000 the following month.
On Tuesday, a review by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) concluded Bramhall’s actions were “borne out of a degree of professional arrogance” and his name should be erased from the medical register.
In its determination, the tribunal found: “The Tribunal, having concluded that a suspension order would be insufficient to protect the wider public interest, determined that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is erasure.
“The physical assault of two vulnerable patients whilst unconscious in a clinical setting, one of whom experienced significant and enduring emotional harm, seriously undermines patients’ and the public’s trust and confidence in the medical profession and inevitably brings the profession as a whole into disrepute.
“Mr Bramhall abused his position of trust and during the short period it took for him to mark his initials he placed his own interests above the interests of his patients.”
Bramhall’s sentencing hearing in 2018 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.
The defendant, of Tarrington in Herefordshire told police he branded the organs to relieve operating theatre tensions following difficult and long transplant operations in 2013.
The tribunal’s conclusion continued: “The Tribunal acknowledged that in many cases where erasure is appropriate the abuse of trust will have occurred over a sustained period of time.
“However, in the circumstances of this case, the short time it took to mark the patients’ livers, and the overall context of providing life-saving care do not mitigate Mr Bramhall’s gross violation of his patient’s dignity and autonomy.”
The determination continued: “The Tribunal rejected the submission made on behalf of Mr Bramhall, that it was to relieve tension. It was an act borne out of a degree of professional arrogance.
“There is no indication before the Tribunal that this is a deep-seated attitudinal failing, but it occurred on two separate occasions within a six month period in the presence of others and Mr Bramhall did not initially recognise the magnitude of his criminal behaviour even when questioned.
“In these circumstances, the Tribunal concluded that the only proportionate sanction is erasure.
“The Tribunal has therefore directed that Mr Bramhall’s name be erased from the Medical Register.”