March 31, 2009

Neurosurgeons saw Natasha hours after fall

A team of Canadian neurosurgeons didn't see late actress Natasha Richardson until nearly six hours after she had her skiing accident, 911 records show.

ABC News said the records have raised questions about whether the British-born actress would still be alive had her head injury been diagnosed and treated sooner.

The 911 records show the first emergency call was made by the ski patrol at the resort where Richardson had been staying on March 16 at 12:45 p.m. However, the paramedics who responded were turned away after Richardson refused treatment. The resort called another ambulance at 3 p.m. because the film and stage star was vomiting and had a severe headache, ABC News said.

It took 45 minutes for the ambulance to get to the nearest hospital where Richardson remained in the emergency room for two hours while she was reportedly being stabilized and the decision was being made about whether to send her to a trauma center. The hospital didn't have a neurosurgeon on staff, ABC News said.

Richardson was then taken to a second hospital that specializes in brain injuries that was another 45 minutes away. Her condition reportedly deteriorated greatly by the time she arrived and was seen by the trauma center's neurosurgeons.

The actress died two days later after her family was told she was brain dead and they decided to take her off of life support.

ABC News said Richardson's family declined to comment on the release of the 911 tapes.