Scheffler author

Elephants in the Room- Dr. Ed Creagan Talks About End-of-Life Care

Scheffler authorGuest Post by University of Minnesota, Rochester senior student Kate Scheffler


Most of us will spendDr. Ed Creagan Transform 2012 the last days of our lives in the Intensive Care Unit. With multiple visits from an array of healthcare professionals, information often gets lost in the medical jargon. Thus, medical interpreters are necessary. Taking on the role as an interpretation unit between the physician and patient, palliative care teams fill this gap. Palliative care focuses on alleviating and preventing the suffering of patients and their families. This is done by communicating with physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals in order to develop a plan specific to each patient.  Having worked with more than 40,000 clinical encounters with the terminally ill, Edward Creagan, M.D., understands the essentiality for end-of-life care providers.

Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Creagan knew that he was interested in end-of-life care from a young age. He attended the New York Medical College and has worked at Mayo for 40 years.  In 1997, Creagan became board certified in Palliative Care and has been touching the lives of patients ever since.

With his uplifting candor and passion, Edward Creagan, M.D. discusses the importance of palliative care teams in clinical settings. Working with patients whose average time to live is 42 hours, Creagan offers insight into the “elephants in the room” that both patients and physicians encounter. Among these issues is the need for interpreters, understanding options, financial situations, and patient needs. The role of palliative care teams is to address these concerns and allow the patient to feel as comfortable as possible by focusing on patient and family-centered care instead of provider-centered care. This is accomplished by gaining a complete grasp on the life of the patient by asking questions such as, “What is right for you?” Palliative care teams ask patients details concerning their pets, occupations, and family life in order to provide personalized care. Currently, palliative care teams are typically utilized towards the end of the patient’s life when patients have limited options. In order to address this disconnect, palliative care teams need to be involved in patient care at a much earlier point. This will allow patients to communicate their needs to health care professionals and will improve their quality of life. By identifying and resolving the “elephants in the room”, the barriers between patients and physicians will be reduced. As Creagan stated, “End-of-life is a process; it’s an evolution, it can be tweaked, death is final.” 

Ed Creagan talks at Transform 2012

Click on image to hear Dr. Creagan's talk


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