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Medical Negligence, My Doctor’s Initials, and an unwanted Tattoo

While two patients in the U.K. may have thought about getting a tattoo, they certainly didn’t expect to walk out of transplant surgery permanently branded with the initials of a once-trusted doctor. Simon Bramhall, a formerly well-regarded British surgeon, recently admitted to using a laser to carve his initials “SB” onto the livers of not one, but two patients. Not quite what the patients ordered.

Why this tattoo is considered Medical Negligence (and Assault)

While many doctors make mistakes, this unspeakable act is no simple medical error. Upon hearing what happened, any reasonable person knows that this doctor did something awful. Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional deviates from an accepted norm and causes injury to a patient. But, you don’t need to know the official definition of medical “negligence” to know that this doctor’s conduct was wrong. This tattoo is an obvious example of medical negligence – where a doctor entrusted every day with human lives chose to treat two unsuspecting patients like the side of an abandoned building, just another graffiti project, all while they were under anesthesia. This act is quite a deviation, far from the accepted norm. In fact, this is one of the rare cases of negligence that also rises to the level of intentional harm. More than just negligence, this new artwork is also an act of assault.

The U.K. legal system is confounded by Dr. Bramhall’s case because, as the prosecutor Tony Badenoch explained, “It is factually … without legal precedent in criminal law.” There is no legal precedent because the legal system holds the same principles that we, reasonable people, do: there shouldn’t need to be laws telling doctors that such horrific actions must never, ever be committed. We hope and think that Dr. Bramhall is forced to pay for his arrogance and negligence – with his medical license, at least, and jail time, at most – but, so far, all he has received is a formal “warning” from the General Medical Council, an official slap on the wrist, and faces a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or maybe a fine. Big whoop.

Making the situation even worse, Dr. Bramhall was not alone during these surgeries. Many other medical professionals were present during both of Bramhall’s graffiti projects on human tissue. Not one doctor, one nurse, or one technician thought to speak up against this patently outrageous act. Months after the crimes, still no medical professionals came forward, leaving the doctor’s negligence undiscovered until his patients had to go in for another surgery. What if they had never undergone another surgery; would they ever have discovered their permanent brand? How many other victims of medical negligence have suffered the same fate, unbeknownst to them? 

Medical Negligence not isolated to the UK

While you may think that this doctor’s blatant negligence is isolated to his hospital, or even to the U.K., this incident is merely another in a long line of shocking medical negligence cases. Seven years ago, a Californian gynecologist stood trial for branding a woman’s name onto her own uterus. Before that, in 2000, a New York doctor was accused of carving his initials into a patient’s abdomen during her Caesarian section.

As outrageous and outlandish as this unwanted tattoo, medical negligence is all too common in hospitals across the country. Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 700 deaths every single day.

However, research indicates that only 1% of all adverse events caused by medical negligence result in a malpractice claim. How many unspeakable acts, just like Dr. Bramhall’s, don’t come to light? Moreover, of the 1% of events that result in a claim, even fewer award the compensation that victims and their families need and deserve.

If you have been a victim of medical negligence, we can help.

Here at The Eisen Law Firm, we are committed to holding medical professionals accountable for their callous, even deliberate, conduct. If you believe that you or one of your loved ones may have been a victim of such negligence, our medical malpractice attorneys are ready to review your case and hold your medical professionals accountable. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online today.