Diana pregnancy tests not top priority, court told

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LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) The doctor who battled to save Princess Diana on her deathbed has dismissed any suggestions that medics should have checked to see if she was pregnant.

Professor Bruno Riou, speaking today to the inquest probing the deaths of Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed in a high-speed Paris car crash in 1997, said taking time out to examine ultrasound scans would have been ''disastrous''.

Dodi's father, luxury store owner Mohamed al-Fayed, says the couple were killed by British security services on the orders of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband and Diana's former father-in-law.

He says Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child and says the royal family did not want a future British king to be a Muslim.

Riou, pressed by al-Fayed's lawyer Michael Mansfield, said the medical team trying desperately to save Diana's life had much greater priorities in the operating theatre.

''For any patient suffering from multiple trauma, the issue of pregnancy is not one we consider,'' he told the London court by videolink from Paris.

''And for a patient like her, bleeding massively and having been subject to cardiac arrest, I would have considered the fact of proceeding to an ultrasound scan as a disastrous loss of time,'' he added.

Riou, who works in the anaesthetics and resuscitation department at Paris' Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, said Diana's chances of surviving the horrendous internal injuries she suffered in the crash were ''almost nil''.

Medical staff at the hospital attempted by cardiac massage and electric shocks to revive Diana's heart as surgeons tried to clamp a ruptured blood vessel next to the heart. But all their efforts were in vain.

Under British law, an inquest is needed to determine the cause of death when someone dies unnaturally.

The inquest, expected to last up to six months and cost up to 10 million pounds, was opened after the conclusion of major British and French police investigations.

They both concluded Diana and Dodi died because their chauffeur Henri Paul was inebriated and driving too fast.

Reuters PY DB2144

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