A British surgeon who used an electric beam to burn his initials (?) onto the livers (??) of not one, but two (???) patients during transplant surgery will no longer be able to practice medicine in the U.K.
Simon Bramhall, a once-celebrated surgeon, performed his little liver monogramming stunts in 2013, when he was working at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He used an argon beam coagulator — typically used to stop livers from bleeding during operations, as well as to demarcate which areas to work on — to sign his initials, “SB,” onto the transplanted livers of two patients without their knowledge. Marks left by argon beam are not physically harmful and usually disappear naturally, but one of the patient’s livers didn’t heal normally, so Bramhall’s initials were still visible when another surgeon did a follow-up surgery on the patient a week later after their liver had failed (for reasons apparently unrelated to Bramhall’s exploits), according to the BBC.
The justification that Bramhall originally gave for signing his work in this manner was that it was an attempt to relieve tension after long and difficult transplant operations, the Guardian reports. Some might suggest yoga or meditation or taking a nice long stroll instead, but I suppose we all have our quirks.
The initials-obsessed surgeon resigned from Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2014, and in 2017 pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by beating (not literal beating), for which he was ordered to pay a fine of £10,000 and do 120 hours of community service. And now, it seems, he will never operate again, after a review by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service this week concluded that Bramhall’s actions were too damaging to the profession.
“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,” read the tribunal’s report, per the Guardian. “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.”
I’m not sure I would call tagging unconscious patients’ organs with your initials “arrogant” so much as “unbelievably fucked up and borderline Cronenbergian,” but I understand the tribunal’s need to be more reserved in its language. Hopefully now Bramhall can go on that long walk, far away from the operating room.