It is a constant danger in this job that a patient, or more likely a patient's relative will make a complaint against you. While a member of the public can moan about a perceived insult (and half of the complaints against the ambulance service are due to 'attitude'), there is little that we can do about a patient who is generally acting like a twit.

I have been pretty lucky in my career, in that I've only had two complaints made against me – once while a nurse and once while working on the ambulances.

The nursing compliant was that I checked the correct dosage of a drug with another nurse before giving it to a child. My boss at the time called me into the office, patted me on the head and told me I was a good boy and should keep up the good work.

The ambulance complaint went to a local investigation.

I was called into the office and asked if I remembered calling a patient a 'bitch'. As I have a poor memory I didn't remember until the ambulance officer gave me the paperwork for the job.

We had been called to a patient who had been arguing with his family, he'd drunk half a bottle of wine and pretended to be unconscious. As he didn't want to 'wake up', we decided to take him to hospital. While in the back of the ambulance he slapped my leg.

I told him that he 'slapped like a bitch' and that he really shouldn't do it again or I might get upset.

I know… not the best insult in the world, he'd surprised me and I had to come up with something on the spur of the moment. If he'd hurt me then I would have thrown him off the ambulance, but as it was such an ineffectual strike I found it more amusing than anything else.

The officer had to investigate the allegation, so he interviewed the other staff present and they supported my side of the story. He then had to travel to the patient's home and interview him there. Luckily the officer saw the character of the patient and convinced him not to go any further with the complaint.

If I'd complained to the police it would no doubt be considered 'not worth prosecuting' by the CPS, but if the patient had continued to complain I could have been seriously disciplined.

All of which only makes me think that I shouldn't leave any witnesses…

A friend of mine, a nicer bloke you'll never meet, has just been through the wringer with a malicious allegation – it's so sad that there are people who are willing to ruin a career out of spite.

23 thoughts on “Complaint”

  1. Me and my partner arrived at a beautiful old house to take an elderly lady to her outpatients appointment, as she didnt often go out she was a bit nervous and reluctant so we spent time talking about the house, fabulous old leaded windows etc, she became more relaxed and agreed to come with us. When facing the steps she became nervous we supported her either side and said we'd carry her if she couldnt make it. I made a throw away comment to my colleague about elderly people arse surfing steps as a new extreme sport, just something to say really. Next day, stern looking boss asked if we'd bought a patient out of her house on her bum, her neice had phoned to make a complaint..there's definitly pro's and con's to having a witness

  2. Yes, I completely agree with you. I read recently on a blog somewhere how a police officer had lost his job because some lad got his freinds to lie for him and said that this officer had beaten him up. Cover ups make me angry, but so do malicious liars.

  3. Why is checking the dose you gave to a patient a bad thing? I would have thought it would have been a good thing? *confused*

  4. It's wonderful how all the people who complain consider themselves to be utterly blameless and totally whiter-than-white. Even while drunk and aggressive.I used to know a girl who, one day, came over to me showing me her slightly reddened wrists and sobbing that her boyfriend (a friend of mine) was being violent with her, oh what a bastard, call the police, etc. He followed her round the corner and the exchange went like this:Me: Did you do that to her wrists?Him: Yes.Me: Why?Him: I was holding them to stop her hitting me.Me: (to her) were you hitting him?Her: well, yeah…

  5. ONe would asume they considerd since he could not be 1000% sure of the doseage that means that he was not skilled enought to be near their little darling.

  6. Was wondering what the services would do if we were to complain about the “customers”, or GP's that use us as taxis. Cant see the management bothering a toss.

  7. If it's anything like down here, unless you are lucky, they take the side of the complainant straight away.When i first started a few years back, there was a spate of complaints. Before the crews were even aware of a complaint, the complainants had been sent flowers as an apology and a letter telling them that the crew had been put on stage 1 of the discipline procedure.

    Needless to say the unions got involved and it was stamped out rather quickly. Two things spring to mind though:

    1 – Making a complaint is far too simple, and most of the times through perceived problems than events that actually happended.

    2 – Wouldn't it be nice if your managers actually decided to back you up for once?!?

  8. Reynolds,Not sure what your point is here, twice people complained about you and on both occasions your behaviour was vindicated! Surely the system works.

    I'd guess you're after a system where either no-one can complain or that every complaint should be met with the phrase “Reynolds is a good bloke, he would never do that”. Neither of those methods seem very safe to me.


  9. What my point was is that it is incredibly easy for members of the public to complain against us and it is a shame that we have no way (outside of criminal law) of 'complaining' about some of the attitudes and actions against us by patients. I have no problem with the way either complaint was handled.Actually I thought that was pretty obvious in the post.

    I also thought that the proceedures worked pretty well in my case, so no complaints from me there.

  10. Even with management telling us that “there is a no blame culture” we still are guilty until proved innocent.Unfortunately it easier for them upstairs to apologise to the complainent and to punish us!

    Even the HPC has on their main web page how to make a complaint….and I thought I was paying my money for protection.

    Just wait till all the Techs have to be registered.

    I just wish management would be sincere in the letters that get sent out when we are praised by a patient and back us up when certain people with a grudge try to drop us in it.

    Great book by the way “Tom”.

  11. in the case of clearly malicious complaints I can't help thinking it would be a good idea to prosecute the complainant. It might make some of them think. Especially relevant when the complainant is being abusive in the first place, and then whinges that their behaviour has caused a response.Then again, it probably wouldn't make any difference anyhow

  12. Just found this blog, interesting stuff. You guys do a top job and seem to get no end of grief from those you're trying to help. Ref this post, I agree, it is too easy to complain and there's no comeback on the complainant if the issue is thrown out. What a waste of time, money and stress hormones. I work in the health services too and pay a lot of money to be registered (much more than the HPC charge!) all so joe public can test the insurance (or so it seems at the end of a bad day).

  13. “it is too easy to complain and there's no comeback on the complainant if the issue is thrown out”There is a flip side to this. Yes, you have people who complain who clearly have no reason to, and yes, it causes a lot of stress for those involved. But also you have a lot of anxious patients and relatives who's anxiety is heightened by poor care and poor attitudes, and they don't always know how or who to complain to. The problem is two sided – you have people who complain over nothing, and you have people who have a reason to complain who are not taken seriously. My husband and I unfortunately fell into the latter catagory. Our complaint was not with an EMT though.

  14. Have a nice cup of tea, its stress relieving properties are now official :)

  15. Point taken. Maybe when I said 'it's too easy to complain', what I really meant was that while it should be easy to complain and every complaint should be taken very seriously in the first instance, once the facts of the case are established, there should be some mechanism in place to redress the balance if the complainant is found to be a chancer. I'm all for people being made to stand up and be counted if they're in the wrong.

  16. In a previous job, I had to investigate and respond to complaints in a hospital. The responses all went out in the Chief Exec's name and often when i'd drafted something along the lines of 'don't be so ridiculous, you/your Mum was drunk/violent/dying when you brought her in and our nurses did their best for you/her', he would water it right down and usually accept some of the blame on behalf of the member of staff complained about. Very demoralising for all concerned.

  17. I totally agree that complaints should be encouraged where justified, but thoroughly rebuffed when they're not.In a previous job, I had to investigate and respond to complaints in a hospital. The responses all went out in the Chief Exec's name and often when i'd drafted something along the lines of 'don't be so ridiculous, you/your Mum was drunk/violent/dying when you brought her in and our nurses did their best for you/her', he would water it right down and usually accept some of the blame on behalf of the member of staff complained about.

    I know NHS managers aren't very popular among the masses, but some of us do try. As a little aside, why does everyone automatically think that people become NHS managers with the intention of making things worse for patients and staff – almost always it's for the opposite reason?

  18. I have a complaint ongoing right now an I am getting REALLY fed up with it. I've admitted the minor transgression (used *F* expletive in a house) but it's going all the way to a hearing because my line manager is a spineless mouse.And the complainant has since been arrested for punching a nurse whilst her partner glassed a bloke in a pub whilst she was being taken out on a carrychair!!! They have NO credibility at all yet I am being put through an emotional wringer with the delays (4 months now and counting). I'll take my punishment just stop giving this any credence at all.

    How many times do i get spat at, verbally abused, threatened, swung at by drunks, punched, kicked and generally treated like s##t, yet the one time I really need managemnet back up I am hung out to dry and left dangling.

  19. Hi bbx,Sorry to hear about your troubles ongoing…. Keep smiling kid and don't let the B******S get you down eh?



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