A CANCER surgeon who lied about removing a female patient’s brain tumour at a Scottish hospital was today struck off the medical register with immediate effect.
A hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled that the actions of the surgeon, Mr Emmanuel Labram, has placed the life of the unidentified patient at “serious risk.”
And he had abused his position of trust and violated the patient’s rights.
The panel chairman, Dr Howard Freeman, declared: “The panel considers that Mr Labram has displayed a reckless disregard for the principles set out in Good Medical Practice. The panel is of the view that patients and the public are entitled to expect medical practitioners to act with integrity. It considers that Mr Labram has abused the position of trust which the public are entitled to place in the medical profession and that his behaviour is unacceptable and fundamentally incompatible with his continued registration”
An earlier hearing in August was told that Mr Labram, of Maryculter in Aberdeen, had falsely told the woman, known as Patient A, and her husband that he had successfully removed her brain tumour during an operation at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in September 2008, convincing the couple that patient A did not require further treatment.
The hearing was told that, following the operation, Mr Labram told the patient’s husband he had removed “100 per cent” of the tumour. But he had only removed four tiny fragments.
He also sent letters to the patient’s GP stating that no further treatment was necessary. In January 2009 he altered a pathology report and sent a forged copy to his patient to conceal the fact that she might need further treatment. Two months later he failed to tell her that another scan showed the tumour unchanged.
Patient A was eventually told in 2010 that the lesion had come back. She was forced to seek private treatment, but by that stage the tumour was inoperable.
Panel chairman Dr Freeman described Mr Labram’s conduct as “deplorable.”
Outlining the panel’s ruling, following today’s hearing in Manchester, Dr Freeman said: “The panel considers that Mr Labram’s misconduct put Patient A at serious risk of harm, he abused his position of trust and he violated Patient A’s rights.
“The panel is satisfied that Mr Labram’s conduct constitutes a very serious departure from the fundamental tenets of good medical practice.”
He continued: “Whilst the panel accepts that Mr Labram’s misconduct relates to a single episode it is concerned that his dishonest behaviour was persistent and covered up. The panel is also concerned that Mr Labram denied any wrongdoing and he maintained throughout the NHS Grampian investigation that his operative management and probity were not deficient.”
Dr Freeman said the panel acknowledge that Mr Labram now accepted that he made a “grave error of judgement” in relation to his management of Patient A, “although he maintains ‘albeit one which he took with the best of intentions.’”
He stated: “It has borne in mind that Mr Labram has had a long and distinguished career, including a sustained period where he was the only surgeon involved in the management of spinal intra-medullary lesions in the North East of Scotland. The Panel has balanced this with the gravity of his misconduct.
“The panel has concluded that it has seen no evidence of any real insight into the gravity of his misconduct to justify any confidence that his behaviour would not be repeated. The panel is therefore not persuaded that a period of suspension would be sufficient for the maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.”
Mr Letham, he said, had displayed a “reckless disregard” for the principles of Good Medical Practice. And Dr Freeman continued: “It (the panel) considers that Mr Labram has abused the position of trust which the public are entitled to place in the medical profession and that his behaviour is unacceptable and fundamentally incompatible with his continued registration.
“Although it related to one patient Mr Labram’s subsequent serial dishonesty coupled with acts of forgery are matters the panel regards as extremely serious. The Panel is of the view that the public interest requires that it be made clear to Mr Labram and the profession that his behaviour is unacceptable. Accordingly, the Panel has determined to direct that Mr Labram’s name be erased from the Medical Register. “
Mr Labram, who no longer works for NHS Grampian, has 28 days in which to appeal.