Diana, Princess of Wales could have been saved if she had been moved more quickly to the hospital, an independent medical practitioner has claimed. Dr James Colthurst, who has spent more than 25 years practicing medicine, believes that the Princess may have still been alive if French doctors had acted differently after the fatal crash in Paris in 1997.
"My belief is that had Diana been moved more quickly, the surgeons may have had a better chance," the Daily Express quoted him, as saying. "Her injuries of course were very serious, but there were delays in addressing those injuries that, to my mind, could have been critical," he added. It took paramedics and doctors more than one and a half hours to move the Princess to hospital after the crash because of the extent of her injuries.
However, Dr Colthurst believes that they wasted precious time by attempting to administer initial first aid at the roadside, instead of taking her straight to the hospital for surgery. And, the view is shared by a number of other experts in the surgical field.
"Given that she was still alive after nearly two hours, had they got her there in an hour they could have saved her," said Dr John Ochsner, a former president of the International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery.
Added Dr David Wasserman, an American physician with nine years experience in one of the US's biggest urban hospitals: "If they had got her to the operating room sooner, she would have had a far greater chance."
Dr Stephen Ramee, a leading cardiologist at the Ochsner Health System centre in New Orleans, also concurs with the same: "We believe that you have a 'golden hour' to save someone's life, whether it's a traumatic injury or a heart attack. As soon as you get to the casualty, you stabilise them, then you move them as fast as possible, often by helicopter, to a centre where you can perform surgery. Some people call it 'scoop and run'."
Dr Colthurst, was a close friend of the Princess who he met on a skiing holiday when she was 17. They remained friends after she married the Prince of Wales and it was he who passed the secret tapes from the Princess to author Andrew Moreton that formed the basis of the book 'Diana: Her True Story'.
Diana, her companion Dodi Al Fayed, as well as their French bodyguard Henri Paul were killed on August 31, 1997 when they car they were in crashed into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel. While the driver and Dodi were instantly killed, Diana was still conscious when the first doctor - a physician passing in his car - arrived on the scene. An ambulance arrived within minutes on the scene but the Princess suffered her first cardiac arrest as she was being removed from the car.
Doctors performed an external chest massage in order to re-establish a cardiac rhythm. After she was removed from the vehicle, she was moved to Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital which was less than four miles away.
However, due to French procedure which required the vehicle to move extremely slowly in order to avoid jolting the patient, and because they stopped at one point the ambulance to allow the team to administer adrenaline after a second cardiac arrest, the journey took 40 minutes.
This meant that the Princess did not arrive until one hour and 40 minutes after the accident. Despite lengthy resuscitation attempts, including internal cardiac massage, she died at 4 a.m. French local time.