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.