A surgeon who marked his initials on the livers of two transplant patients has admitted assault by beating.
Simon Bramhall, 53, committed the offences at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in February and August 2013.
The liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon was suspended later that year.
He pleaded guilty to two charges at Birmingham Crown Court and will be sentenced at the same court on 12 January.
He denied the more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm – a plea which was accepted by prosecutors.
Tony Badenoch QC said the case was “without legal precedent in criminal law”.
Bramhall, who came to attention in 2010 when he transplanted a liver saved from a burning aircraft into a patient, was suspended when the branding was discovered by another surgeon.
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 not believed to have been harmful to the liver and the marks normally disappear.
In one case it appears the organ was already damaged and as a result did not heal itself in the normal manner, allowing the marks to be seen.
‘Disregard for feelings’
Mr Badenoch said it had been a “highly unusual and complex case, both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law.”
He said what Bramhall had done was not isolated and required “some skill and concentration”.
“It was done in the presence of colleagues,” he said.
His actions were carried out “with a disregard for the feelings of unconscious patients”, the prosecutor added.
Bramhall resigned after a disciplinary hearing with University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust in May 2014.
Speaking to the BBC after his suspension he admitted he had made “a mistake”.