This California Plastic Surgeon Was Charged with Murder in Patient's Death


May 31 2023, Published 4:14 p.m. ET

Hands in medical globes hold surgery tools
Source: Getty Images

A San Diego area plastic surgeon has been charged with second-degree murder in the 2018 death of a patient. Dr. Carlos Chacon of Divino Plastic Surgery in Bonita, Calif. also faces several civil lawsuits from patients accusing him of botched surgeries. Here’s what you need to know about the Divino Plastic Surgery lawsuits.

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Dr. Chacon pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

In April 2023, Dr. Chacon pleaded not guilty charges stemming from the death of Megan Espinoza, who died days after going into cardiac arrest while undergoing breast augmentation surgery, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Dr. Carlos Chacon preps for surgery.
Source: Divino Plastic Surgery/Facebook
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Although Dr. Chacon was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter for Espinoza’s death, the second-degree murder charge was added after an investigation found that Dr. Chacon allegedly waited three hours to call 911 and even met with other potential patients while Espinoza was in distress, the Union-Tribune reports.

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas claims Dr. Chacon also prevented others at Divino Plastic Surgery from calling 911, reports KGTV Channel 10 News in San Diego.

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“The defended essentially doubled down on his practices and prevented other people from calling 911 and allowed Ms. Espinoza to essentially suffocate for a three-hour period before emergency personnel were finally summoned,” Darvas told KGTV reporters after Dr. Chacon’s April 10 arraignment.

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The doctor’s “conscious disregard for life” prompted prosecutors to ad the second-degree charge, the Union-Tribue reports.

A nurse at Divino Plastic Surgery was also charged.

Registered nurse Heather Lang Vass, who assisted Dr. Chacon with Espinoza’s surgery, was also charged with the patient’s death. In May 2023, she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Espinoza’s death, as reported by Becker's ASC Review.

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According to a 2022 report by the Medical Board of California (MBA), Espinoza received anesthesia from a nurse and not a licensed anesthesiologist before her surgery, KGTV reported. Two hours into the surgery, Espinoza went into cardiac arrest. Instead of calling 911, Dr. Chacon called two anesthesiologists for advice, one who told him to “immediately call 911,” the report states.

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However, Dr. Chacon reportedly didn’t call 911 for three hours. When Espinoza finally reached the hospital, she was brain-dead and died five days later, KGTV reports.

Civil lawsuits have been filed against Divino Plastic Surgery.

Espinoza’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Dr. Chacon and Divino Plastic Surgery. The family reached a settlement in December 2022 for an undisclosed amount of money, KGTV reports.

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Another former Dr. Chacon patient, Natassia Louis, filed a lawsuit claiming the doctor botched her surgery, leaving her with a hole in her stomach. Louis went to Divino Plastic Surgery for a butt lift, but during a consultation with Dr. Chacon, he convinced her into a “full mommy makeover,” which would include a breast lift and using fat from her stomach to add to her butt, Louis told NBC 7 in San Diego.

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Days after her April 6, 2021 surgery, Louis reportedly developed a hole in her stomach. Dr. Chacon agreed to repair it, but then someone from his office warned Louis to look the doctor up online before agreeing to more procedures, NBC 7 reports.

“He shouldn’t be in business right now,” Louis told NBC 7. “No one stopped him after things started happening. No one stopped him, and he continues to be in business, and he continues to hurt people, and it could have been stopped.”

If you have had any procedures done at Divino Plastic Surgery that you are concerned about, you may want to consult with a lawyer.

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