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Inquiry reveals graphic details of Princess Diana's injuries

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Inquiry reveals graphic details of Princess Diana's injuries


Published by webmaster for in Communities


The post-crash medical care Diana received and graphic details of her injuries were revealed by the Operation Paget inquiry.

The Princess of Wales suffered multiple injuries and internal bleeding during the car accident but she was apparently still conscious in the moments after the smash.

Diana suffered a cardiac arrest after being removed from the Mercedes and when she arrived at hospital had another. But the second time medical staff were unable to start her heart - despite trying to resuscitate her for over an hour.

Off-duty ambulance doctor Frederic Mailliez was the first medic on the crash scene. He had been travelling in the opposite direction through the tunnel when he came across the accident.

He realised Dodi al Fayed and Henri Paul were dead and called the emergency services before treating a woman he did not realise was Diana.

The doctor told the original French inquiry, "the young woman was unconscious and groaning," he tried to help the Princess's breathing then left when the emergency services arrived.

Diana received treatment from the police, fire and medical services as they arrived in turn at the scene.

A police officer Sebastien Dorzee graphically described the Princess's state trapped in the back of the car, in his statement to the French inquiry.

"Blood was coming out of her mouth and nose. You could see a deep wound to her forehead," he said.

He added: "She moved, her eyes were open, speaking to me in a foreign language. I think that she said 'My God' on seeing her boyfriend dying."

A cervical collar was fitted and she was covered in an metallic isothermal blanket, her pulse was recorded as "fine and quite strong". Other emergency services attended to Trevor Rees-Jones.

Doctor Jean-Marc Martino, a specialist in anaesthetics and intensive care treatment, was in charge of the ambulance which arrived at the scene and described the full extent of Diana's injuries.

He told the French inquiry he noted a right side chest trauma, an apparent fracture to the right, upper arm and right wrist and a wound to her right thigh. He also noted an injury to her face.

Diana was in a "medically abnormal" position in the back of the car and as soon as his team removed her she went into cardiac arrest but they managed to restart her heart.

When the Princess's blood pressure began to fall Dr Martino realised she needed to get hospital as she probably had internal bleeding.

There has been criticism that it took too long to get the Princess to hospital and that the ambulance passed a medical centre on its journey that could have given her adequate treatment.

The report noted the French emergency services' response to incidents involving casualties is different from the UK.

It stated: "The French focus more on delivering medical treatment at the scene and moving the patient to hospital once stabilisation is achieved."

Dr Arnaud Derossi, who co-ordinated the medical response at the scene, decided with his ambulance control to send her to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital - the main reception for multiple trauma patients in Paris.

As the ambulance travelled along it stopped when Diana's blood pressure dropped as Dr Martino feared she would suffer another heart attack.

It continued and arrived at the hospital at 2.06am - 25 minutes after it left and more than an hour-and-a-half after the first emergencies services arrived at the scene.

Medical experts who reviewed the treatment for the French investigation concluded: "The treatment given was in accordance with current medical knowledge in the light of the operating conditions and injuries that could be detected at the time."

"The type of injury found is commonly fatal, regardless of the treatment given. It is exceptional for patients with this type of injury to reach hospital alive."

The UK report stated that after hearing evidence from a number of medical staff who treated Diana: "There was no evidence to show that there was a more appropriate hospital that could have provided this treatment."

When Diana arrived at hospital she was x-rayed which confirmed the internal bleed but 10 minutes after being admitted had another cardiac arrest.

The Princess was taken to theatre for emergency surgery and the source of the bleeding, a tear to the upper left pulmonary vein - the vessel which carries blood from the lungs to the heart - was found and repaired.

Medical staff spent an hour trying to restart Diana's heart but her injuries were too severe.

Diana's body was later embalmed before it was flown back to the UK - a decision that has generated criticism.

There have been claims that she was embalmed to conceal the fact she was pregnant.

But the report stated: "The embalming of the Princess of Wales was carried out in accordance with French procedures."

It added: "No pregnancy test was undertaken on the Princess of Wales in France or the United Kingdom.

"This is entirely in line with normal practice in these situations. Therefore there was never any need to 'mask' a pregnancy test with a 'false' positive or to deliberately corrupt samples.

"There is no evidence to show embalming was carried out in an attempt to conceal any pregnancy."

Copyright Press Association 2006


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