A prominent surgeon from the United Kingdom (UK) has pleaded guilty to branding his initials onto two of his patients' internal organs. Prosecutors asserted that the unwanted autographs were a physical assault.
On Dec. 13, Simon Bramhall pleaded guilty to assault by beating in the Birmingham Royal Court in Birmingham, UK. The physician pleaded not guilty to a higher charge of assault to induce bodily harm. He will be sentenced on Jan. 12, The Guardian reports.
"It is factually, so far as we have been able to establish, without legal precedent," prosecutor Tony Badenoch said of Bramhall's decision to burn his initials into two patients' internal organs in 2013.
Badenoch added that 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."
Bramhall had used an argon beam, a device that helps staunch bleeding during surgery, to imprint his autograph on two patients' livers. The signing is not believed to have caused any complications for the patients' health.
Bramhall was suspended from Queen Elizabeth hospital in 2013 after another doctor discovered his handiwork during an operation. In May 2014, Bramhall resigned from the esteemed hospital.
"I was not dismissed," Bramhall said at the time. "I made the decision. ... It is a bit raw and I have to move on."
Elizabeth Reid of the Crown Prosecution Service asserted that Bramhall's fleshy signatures were not only unethical but illegal.
"It was an intentional application of unlawful force to a patient while anesthetized," Reid said. "His acts in marking the livers of those patients, in a wholly unnecessary way, were deliberate and conscious acts on his part."
In November 2010, Bramham drew international attention when he successfully transplanted a liver that escaped a plane crash unscathed. Bramham said at the time that his patient would have died if the organ had been destroyed in transit, BBC News reports.
In February 2014, Tracy Scriven of Wiltshire defended Bramhall against the allegations of assault, citing that he had saved her with a innovative liver transplant.
"Even if he did put his initials on a transplanted liver, is it really that bad?" Scriven told the Birmingham Mail. "I wouldn't have cared if he did it to me. The man saved my life. ... He's a really good man who can do a really good job."
In February, the UK General Medical Council issued Bramhall a stern warning that his autographic could never occur again. The physician has not been disbarred from practice.