Doctor accused of wife’s death after plastic surgery

Benjamin Brown

SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida plastic surgeon was charged on Monday in connection with the death of his wife, who went into cardiac arrest while he was performing several procedures on her in his office last November.

According to Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, Benjamin Jacob Brown, 41, of Gulf Breeze, surrendered to authorities on Monday morning and was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence. He is accused of second-degree felony homicide in the death of his wife, Hillary Ellington Brown, 33.

The sheriff’s office wrote in a news release posted on Facebook that deputies responded to a medical emergency at Restore Plastic Surgery on Nov. 21, 2023.

A Florida Health Department investigation revealed that Benjamin Brown reportedly waited to call 911 after his wife became unresponsive in his surgical chair, the Pensacola News-Journal reported.

Investigators stated that the plastic surgeon waited at least 10 to 20 minutes before administering CPR and did not have life-saving equipment readily available in his office when her heart stopped, according to the newspaper.

The report also stated that Brown did not follow proper medical procedures when giving his wife sedatives, which led to her death, the News-Journal reported.

Hillary Brown was taken to an area hospital and was later placed on life support, according to WEAR-TV. She died on Nov. 28, 2023, the sheriff’s office said.

On May 15, 2024, the Santa Rosa County medical examiner ruled that Hillary Brown’s cause of death was from “complications following lidocaine toxicity,” WEAR reported.

Two weeks earlier, the Florida Department of Health issued an emergency order restricting Benjamin Brown’s medical license, according to the News-Journal. The order restricted the doctor to only performing procedures or surgeries in a licensed hospital while under the supervision of a licensed physician, the newspaper reported.

According to State Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo, Brown’s “inability or unwillingness” to follow basic medical procedure presents an “immediate serious danger to the health, welfare, and safety of the public” according to the News-Journal.

The emergency order stated that Hillary Brown had been scheduled to undergo “miniature muscle plication/abdominal scar revision, bilateral arm liposuction, lip injections, and ear adjustment procedures.”

According to the order, Hillary Brown, who had no formal medical training, prepared her own solution, which included diluted lidocaine, epinephrine, and sodium bicarbonate, and filled IV bags with the liquid. She then ingested a “handful” of multi-colored pills, which included Valium.

The medical board added that Benjamin Brown allowed his wife to suture her own skin, the News-Journal reported. While he performed liposuction on his wife’s arm, Hillary Brown became unresponsive, the emergency order stated.

She told her husband that her vision was beginning to blur and that she saw “orange.”

Benjamin Brown continued to inject lidocaine and xylocaine in his wife’s face, WEAR reported. She soon went into cardiac arrest.

Benjamin Brown has not returned calls for comment, the News-Journal reported. A previous statement released by his crisis management public relations team said he denied accusations of wrongdoing.

“Dr. Brown continues to live an endless nightmare without his wife Hillary by his side, and these inaccurate allegations only further deepen his immense pain,” the emailed statement said.

Benjamin Brown was booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail and was released several hours later, online records show.

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