Artists generally like to sign their work. Painters, sculptors, poets, all leave their name as a mark of pride. But when your brush is a scalpel and your canvas is the human body, it’s probably best to avoid that urge. One British surgeon is finding that out, after being suspended for branding his initials on a patient’s liver. These ain’t cattle, doc!
Details are slim on this one, but it seems a surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in England’s West Midlands, used an argon plasma coagulation tool to sear his brand in a patient’s liver. The tool, used to stop bleeding by burning tiny blood vessels shut with a beam of electrically-charged argon gas, can cut up to an inch deep in human tissue.
The surgeon’s signature was discovered by another doctor, who found the initials on the patient’s organ during a different surgery. Now they fear that potentially hundreds of patients are walking around with organs bearing the surgeon’s name. Doctors say the branding leaves only superficial burns, and isn’t likely to cause any harm to the patients. Small solace when you’re walking around with some bonkers doctor’s insignia on your guts.
Puzzlingly, shockingly, disturbingly, this is far from the first time a surgeon has been corralled for tagging a patient’s parts. A few years ago, a doctor performing a hysterectomy branded the patient’s name on her removed uterus, claiming it was “a friendly gesture.” Another doctor carved his initials into a woman’s abdomen after performing a C-section.
Image modified from Shutterstock / CLIPAREA