Florida plastic surgeon refuses to call 911 after wife’s fatal overdose on operating table: sheriff

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A Georgetown-educated plastic surgeon was arrested Monday for the death of his wife, who went into cardiac arrest after he performed a series of cosmetic procedures on her.

Officials said Benjamin Jacob Brown, 41, failed to call 911 for nearly 20 minutes as his spouse, Hillary Ellington Brown, had a seizure on an operating table in his Gulf Breeze, Florida office last November.

The victim, who had three kids from a prior relationship, allegedly took a “plethora of pills” before going under the knife and even participated in the operation.

She sewed up her own abdominal incision, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Brown turned himself in on Monday, after a judge signed a warrant charging him with manslaughter by culpable negligence, a second-degree felony. He was released after posting bail.

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The Florida Department of Health filed an emergency restriction on Brown’s medical license after his wife’s death.

The order revealed that she had been slated for liposuction, lip injections, ear adjustments and other procedures at his Restore Plastic Surgery practice Nov. 21, 2023.

According to a probable cause warrant, staffers told investigators that Brown’s wife – who had no medical training – prepared her own IV bags containing anesthetic before her husband began operating on her.

The surgeon administered additional anesthesia but was unable to specify what he used and didn’t record the dosages, the papers state.

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Dr. Ben Brown poses with his wife, Hillary Brown.

One former employee said Brown deliberately gave his wife more anesthesia than was appropriate for her petite size. 

“She said Brown referred to the victim as his ‘little alien’ and intentionally gave the victim higher doses of medications,” the warrant reads.

During the abdominal procedures, the victim “became restless and her feet began twitching,” the warrant says.

The symptoms worsened during liposuction of her arms.  

Although she already had signs of “lidocaine toxicity,” Brown allegedly injected an even more concentrated lidocaine solution into her face, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Her vision started to blur, and she told Dr. Brown that she saw ‘orange'” before she became unresponsive and started to have a seizure.

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Hillary Brown wears a pink outfit.

Several staffers asked if they should call 911, but Brown ordered them to wait and said that he would address her issues himself.

As her vitals crashed, the surgeon told his staff to find an oxygen tank and a stethoscope, but they couldn’t locate the critical supplies.

The surgeon finally relented and told a staffer to call 911. 

She was rushed to the Ascension Sacred Heart Emergency Care Department in Pensacola, where she was placed on life support before passing a week later.

Brown posted emotional social media messages soon after her hospitalization, calling her his “soulmate,” according to the Pensacola News Journal.

“We need prayers for a miracle. Hillary had a cardiac arrest on Tuesday afternoon. We called 911 and started CPR. Her heart came back but her brain is not doing well,” he posted on Nov. 24.

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Hillary Brown with Dr. Ben Brown.

“She has been in a coma since she went unconscious on Tuesday. Hillary Ellington Brown you are my soulmate, my world, my everything. Please come back. Please!”

But his wife’s father had little sympathy for Brown, squarely blaming his “ego and arrogance” for his daughter’s death.

“Ben Brown took the mother from my grandchildren, my only daughter and our brightest star. Hillary gave the ultimate sacrifice so Ben Brown cannot hurt anyone else,” Marty Ellington told the Pensacola News Journal. “Maybe in prison, he will get the attention he deserves.”

A medical examiner found that her cause of death stemmed from “complications following lidocaine toxicity.”

READ THE PROBABLE CAUSE AFFIDAVIT AGAINST DR. BEN BROWN:

The Florida Department of Health concluded that Brown had been negligent and “haphazard” during the procedures.

“The level of disregard Dr. Brown paid to patient safety, even when the patient was his wife, indicates that Dr. Brown is unwilling or incapable of providing the appropriate level of care to his future patients,” according to the order from the Department of Health.

The victim, who had no medical training, worked at the practice and performed cosmetic injections on patients, the report noted.

  

Brown, who graduated from Georgetown University’s Department of Plastic Surgery in 2015, was licensed to practice in Florida, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Washington DC.

He is now facing up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of second-degree homicide.

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