British Doctor Confesses To Burning His Initials Into Livers Of Transplant Patients

Doctor Simon Bramhall, 53,  was in a Birmingham Crown Court admitting a truly heinous act this week: burning his initials on the livers of two unconscious patients during transplant operations. While denying assault involving actual bodily harm, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating.


Bramhall was working as a liver transplant surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when he used an argon beam coagulator to burn his initials into the livers in 2013.

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC stated that the guilty pleas “reflect the fact that Dr Bramhall’s initialling on a patient’s liver was not an isolated incident but rather a repeated act on two occasions, requiring some skill and concentration. It was done in the presence of colleagues.”

What I fail to understand is why his colleagues were not also charged or at a minimum stripped of their licenses.  Badenoch added “It will be for others to decide whether and to what extent his fitness to practice is impaired.” That is a chilling notion that somehow the question of his continuing to practice is still outstanding.

In addition to criminal liability, this horrific act would result in extensive civil liability in the United States against both the doctor and the hospital. Indeed, the knowledge of his colleagues would represent a broader range possible defendants.  Not just malpractice but the intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery could be litigated.

The charge of “assault by beating” is a bit curious for Americans but the English code seems to favor this crime on any allegation involving battery.  Battery is defined as  intentionally and recklessly using unlawful force to another.

21 thoughts on “British Doctor Confesses To Burning His Initials Into Livers Of Transplant Patients”

  1. For those seriously interested in the jaw-dropping volume of lab coat lunacy, you’re welcome to take a peek at our Paramedic website, where we detail cases of the 200 physicians who manage to step into legal doggy doo-doo, every single month of the year. I would love to know how much of a surprise this subject could possibly be, to practicing attorneys. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group has accumulated thousands upon thousands of cases since 1987.

    Here’s an outrageous sample of one that touches upon just this subject:

    “A Manhattan obstetrician was granted a plea bargain that sentences him to five years’ probation, for carving his initials into the belly of one of his patients, after delivering her child. The doctor, Allan Zarkin, age 62, will not go to jail, but was barred from applying for a medical license for five years.” (Daid Rohde, NYTs)

    The victim is a doctor herself, and won a $1.7M civil suit.

    The ugly reality is that as far as we can determine, NO other profession generates more unnecessary pain and suffering, steals more money, cripples and kills more citizens, than the 2% lunatic fringe of errant physicians.

    And how much of any of this did we hear about, during the 10-year brain-thudding chatter called Obama Care?


  2. It’s kind of charming that you think he’d necessarily be held liable in the US. We -had- this case — Dr. Guiler, who branded organs with “UK” (for “University of Kentucky”, his alma mater).

    He was not charged and won the civil case against nine patients by merely claiming the brand helped him orient the organs correctly.

  3. Personally, I do not see anything wrong with signing your work if no one can see it. 🙂

  4. Every moment you are under anesthesia and every instrument used on a patient has a huge element of risk. He risked the patients life and health to show off and the rest of the surgical team failed in their duty to to protect.

  5. A liver transplant is desperately hoped for. To damage the organ, even superficially, is unconscionable, let alone branding the patients with his name like chattel.

    And his colleagues stood by and did nothing. Whether they agreed or not, they were complicit. They didn’t stop him and they don’t seem to have reported them. Therefore, they should be held equally accountable. They cannot be trusted to care for patients, either.

  6. Fortunately for the doctor, he was tried in the UK and not ancient Greece. Prometheus certainly fared worse for his crimes.

  7. Forgive my medical ignorance, but what is the actual damage to the organ? Isn’t the liver pretty resilient and can regrow even? Could it be that this is just an unwanted tattoo in a place where nobody (except red and white blood cells, and alcohol) would ever see it? If there are functional damage and risk to health involved, then, of course, this is a big deal. However, from the article it appears that he was using that tool just in a bizarre manner:
    “Liver surgeons use an argon beam to stop livers bleeding, but can also use it to burn the surface of the liver to sketch out the area of an operation.

    It is usually not harmful and the marks would normally disappear but the woman in question’s liver did not heal itself in the normal manner and the initials were found in a follow-up operation, it is alleged.”

    Would the sentence be more severe if he had misspelled his initials? Just curious.

    1. I have to agree. I fail to see the harm. The patient wouldn’t even know about it, and it seems like it was a juvenile act by the doctor, without any intent to do any harm. Without a showing of actual harm to the organ, who cares? I’m sure the patient may claim emotional distress, once he learns if it, and then laugh about it once he gets the payout.

      1. Unless the patient signed a consent form allowing this surgeon to sign his work, then that patient has every right to be secure from acts that would violate her body. Oh, nobody will see it, said the pedophile to his victim.

      2. So you think docs can just have at your body under anesthesia, right? No harm so long as you don’t know about it and they don’t “intend” any harm? Yikes! What industry are you in? Just curious.

        1. Exactly. Look at how many people don’t find anything wrong with this. Slippery slope when you invite people to determine your rights.

  8. I’m sure that the typical reader here is totally perplexed as to why an otherwise distinguished surgeon would do such an insidious act as to etch his initials onto the liver of his patients whilst operating on them.

    Well, there’s no need to be perplexed any longer.

    Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where Doctor Simon Bramhall practiced and taught, is located in a city in the United Kingdom called Birmingham. Birmingham is inhabited by approximately 1.1 million people. However, in this particular city, due to mass migration policies, more than than one in five residents declare Islam as their “religion.” This is not just a wild coincidence or mere happenstance. One cannot expect the residents in such a city to remain civilized for long. Sooner or later, the cult of Islam is bound to rub off, as barbarism and terrorism become normalized and accepted aspects of everyday life for the residents of such cities.

    1. Ralph, I think it’s just typical surgeon arrogance at work here. My personal experience has been that surgeons consider themselves close to gods. Makes for a bunch of d-bags who like to show off “in theatre,” as it were. WRT your larger point, I agree that Europe is dying.

  9. Prof. Turley’s back-to-back columns gives us a sense of British justice these days.

    I can remember when the British were men; seems that they have dropped down the evolutionary ladder.

    1. You mean like the 19th C, when by law, if a British man died with a son and a wife, the son inherited everything and the wife nothing?

Comments are closed.