Why AIDET – Words are powerful

All GVMH Staff are participating in AIDET training over the next few months.  AIDET is a tool to help us better communicate with our patients, reduce patient anxiety and increase patient satisfaction. AIDET stands for Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation and Thank You.

AIDET is important because words are powerful, words inspire emotion and words mean things.  Let me share a story to help you understand.

When I graduated from college one of the gifts I received was a puppy.  I got a 6 week old Labrador Retriever puppy and that dog became my best friend.  You see when I graduated college I moved to Clinton and started working at GVMH and the only person I knew was that dog.  That dog was my best friend.  I took him everywhere.  We were inseparable.  That dog was so special to me that he was the ring bearer in my wedding.  He had a ribbon tied around his neck and on that ribbon were the rings we exchanged in the ceremony and we still wear today.

I moved to Clinton in 1996 got married in 2004 and then in 2006 my dog developed a sore on his foot.  I took him to the vet and the vet determined that the sore was a form a cancer.  The vet had to take one of my dog’s toes off but felt like there really wouldn’t be any other problem.  Then in November of 2007 that old dog got sick. 

He started to have trouble breathing so I took him to the vet and I found out that the cancer had spread to his lungs.  He got worse quick and just two days later he could barely get off of the floor and I made what I thought was the hardest decision of my life, I made the decision to have that old dog put to sleep.   It was hard, it was like saying goodbye to my best friend.  I’m really a fairly stoic guy but I’ll tell you, I cried and I still miss that dog to this day.

I had called my parents the day before I took my old dog to the vet to be put to sleep and told them that he was sick and I knew they would want to know what happened because they love me and they loved that old dog too but I dreaded that call.  I could hardly bring myself to call them.

The reason it was hard to call had little to do with the fact that I was going to tell them that I just had my dog put to sleep.  I had that old dog put to sleep in November of 2007 and just two months earlier in September of 2007 my mother was diagnosed with Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma or ACC.  I’m sure most of you have never heard of ACC it’s a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.  There are only 200 cases of ACC diagnosed each year and a diagnosis of ACC is a death sentence because there is no cure.

I just couldn’t work up the nerve to call my Mom and tell her I had just put my dog to sleep because he had cancer, it just seemed petty, so instead I called my Dad’s cell phone and told him what had happened and I left it at that.

My Mom is a better person than me so she called me the next day to console me.  Here’s a lady with a terminal illness calling me to console me for putting my dog to sleep and I’ll never forget a few of the words she shared when she said “sometimes life has a way of preparing you for things”.

She died on January 26, 2008 and fortunately my entire family was by her side.  Earlier I said the hardest thing I’d ever had to do was make the decision to have my old dog put to sleep well that changed on January 26, 2008.  The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is tell my Mom goodbye.

So do you believe me that words can elicit emotion? 

Words are powerful, words mean things, words tell a story.  Be sure the words you share with your patients tell the right story – this is why AIDET is important.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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