A French surgeon faces legal action after he tried to sell an X-ray of one of his patient’s injuries as a digital artwork without her consent.
The senior surgeon at a Paris hospital put the image of a woman’s forearm with a Kalashnikov bullet lodged near the bone up for sale online as an NFT.
The listing said she had been shot in the arm during the 2015 Bataclan attack in Paris which left 130 people dead.
Emmanuel Masmejean now faces legal action and possible misconduct charges.
Mr Masmejean, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Georges Pompidou hospital, had also described the patient on the NFT website as a young woman who had lost her boyfriend during the 2015 massacre in Paris by Islamic State gunmen.
Asked for comment by Mediapart, which first reported the story, Mr Masmejean reportedly said he acknowledged that the sale was “an error” and that he regretted not having sought permission from the patient.
NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – are “one-of-a-kind” digital collectibles that cannot be duplicated. They do not have a physical presence the same way a painting or sculpture does. Instead, the token is more like a certificate of ownership.
Critics argue that the digital tokens have little real value and point to widespread scams within the unregulated fledgling industry, such as creating NFTs of art that the seller does not actually own.
In this case, the NFT of the French woman’s X-ray was put up for sale on OpenSea – one of the most popular NFT trading sites – for £2,057 ($2,776; €2,446), Mediapart reported.
It has since been pulled from sale.
The woman’s lawyer said she was “extremely shocked” to discover what he had done, according to news agency AFP.
“This doctor, not content with breaking the duty of medical secrecy towards this patient, thought it would be a good idea to describe the private life of this young woman, making her perfectly identifiable,” a statement sent to AFP from the woman’s lawyer said.
The woman in question wishes to remain anonymous.
The head of Paris’s public hospitals, Martin Hirsch, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that a criminal and professional complaint had been lodged against the surgeon for his “heinous behaviour”.
“This act is contrary to sound professional practice, puts medical secrecy in danger, and goes against the values of [Paris hospitals] and public service,” Dr Hirsch wrote in a message sent to staff, which he shared on Twitter.
The BBC has contacted Mr Masmejean’s hospital to seek comment from him.
The attack on the popular music venue the Bataclan was carried out on 13 November 2015, where Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal was playing a gig in front of a sold-out crowd.
It was part of a co-ordinated assault by Islamic State (IS) group extremists that killed 130 people both at the theatre and elsewhere in the city that night.