Benjamin Brown: Florida plastic surgeon arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in wife's surgery death

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A plastic surgeon in Florida has been arrested over the death of his wife who went into cardiac arrest while undergoing surgery in November.

Benjamin Brown, 41, was taken into custody on Monday (June 17) on charges of second-degree felony homicide: manslaughter by culpable negligence. He turned himself in to police on Monday after a warrant was put out for his arrest on Friday.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to Brown’s practice, Restore Plastic Surgery, in Gulf Breeze, Florida, for a medical emergency on November 21. Hillary Ellington Brown, 33, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where she was later put on life support. She sadly died seven days later and an autopsy into her death is pending.

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According to reports, his wife Hillary was scheduled to undergo miniature muscle plication/abdominal scar revision, bilateral arm liposuction, lip injections, and ear adjustment procedures. She prepared her own anaesthesia before the surgeries, a state report read, but did not document what she took.

She also ingested a handful of multicoloured pills, including Valium. Shortly before the procedures, she began experiencing symptoms relating to sedation. When she went into the operating room, Brown administered additional aesthesia without being able to verify what his wife took.

He did not document his wife's medication or dosage. At one point, she reported her vision becoming blurry and seeing "orange". She also experienced restlessness, muscle twitching, and blurred vision, common symptoms of toxicity.

Benjamin Brown, 41, has been arrested over the death of his wife who went into cardiac arrest on his operating table in November.Benjamin Brown, 41, has been arrested over the death of his wife who went into cardiac arrest on his operating table in November.
Benjamin Brown, 41, has been arrested over the death of his wife who went into cardiac arrest on his operating table in November. | Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office Florida

Despite these signs, the doctor continued injecting drugs into her face. She then became unresponsive and began seizing. When a medical assistant suggested calling 911, Brown initially refused. Over the next 10 to 20 minutes, the assistant asked again, and he either said "no" or "wait," according to the report.

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As the situation worsened, Brown panicked and asked his assistants for supplies like an oxygen tank and stethoscope, which they struggled to find. Meanwhile, Brown yelled at the staff, demanding, "What medication did she take? What did she take?".

After 10 to 20 minutes, her breathing became shallow, and her pulse and oxygen levels dropped. Brown then instructed his employees to call 911. Emergency officials arrived and transported her to the hospital, but she never regained consciousness. The couple had three children.

According to the health department’s website, Brown graduated from Georgetown University’s Department of Plastic Surgery in 2015. He holds medical licenses in Florida, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia, and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Hillary Ellington Brown, 33, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where she was later put on life support. She sadly died seven days later and an autopsy into her death is pending.Hillary Ellington Brown, 33, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where she was later put on life support. She sadly died seven days later and an autopsy into her death is pending.
Hillary Ellington Brown, 33, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where she was later put on life support. She sadly died seven days later and an autopsy into her death is pending. | Rose Lawn Funeral Home

Marty Ellington, Hillary’s father, said: "My family lives in a sea of tears for eternity due to the actions of one careless individual. His ego and arrogance overshadowed the need for help, prolonging oxygen deprivation to her brain and ultimately causing her death.

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"Ben Brown took the mother from my grandchildren, my only daughter, and our brightest star. Hillary gave the ultimate sacrifice so Ben Brown can not hurt anyone else. Maybe in prison, he will get the attention he deserves."

On May 2, the Florida Department of Health issued an emergency order restricting Brown’s medical licence to only perform procedures or surgeries in a licensed hospital under the supervision of a licensed physician. The department is pursuing disciplinary action in the case. Brown is challenging the allegations, and the case will be heard by the Division for Administrative Hearings.

A department probe revealed that Brown's practice experienced a decline in business in 2021, with the facility said to be dirty and poorly maintained. Employees reported using sedatives and performing unwanted procedures, including Brazilian butt lifts, while one patient reported disfigurement and ongoing pain.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Deputies said Brown is currently being held in jail pending his first appearance in court as they investigate the ‘unexpected’ death. The force added: “The autopsy protocol typically takes several months as it usually is dependent on extensive laboratory and toxicology tests as well as the information gathered by our Major Crimes detectives concerning the circumstances of the death.”