Physician's Perspective

Medical Advancements of 2012 Lead Us Into 2013

The year 2012 was truly an eventful year in medicine. Perhaps most importantly, the Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was indeed constitutional. In 2013, we will see many changes in our healthcare system continue to take effect. One example is the provision that will make it easier for patients to understand and compare insurance coverage. As of September 23, 2012, group health plans nationwide must provide a uniform summary explanation of benefits and coverage. The standardized summary must be provided to people when they apply for coverage and to policyholders when health insurance policies are issued. For the first time, all individuals will be guaranteed a side-by-side compar-ison of details that explain co-pays, prescription coverage, deductibles, and other essential information to help them choose a health insurance policy that will meet their needs. This will clearly help entrepreneurs and two-income families choose the better of multiple insurance plans. 

Next year, we will also begin to see the benefit of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new limits for mercury emissions and air toxins. This change is expected to prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4700 myocardial infarctions annually. The new regulations curb carcinogens and pollutants that exacerbate asthma and limit the amount of mercury that power plants can release into the air. A reduction in the bioaccumulation of mercury in soil and water would likely reduce the incidence of mercury exposure in fish, and thus, ingestion-associated mercury exposure in humans. Consumption of these neurotoxins can injure individuals of all ages and even affect fetuses in the womb. In addition to mercury, the legislation will reduce the levels of more than 60 air toxins, including heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, and nickel, as well as gases that contribute to fine-particle pollution. 

This year we heard news of the first successful recipient of a full face transplant. This remarkable accomplishment followed many years of study and immunological advancements. Additional advances in the field of transplant will most certainly follow next year. In addition, HIV researchers have recently found a way to lower an infected person’s chance of transmitting the virus to sexual partners by 96%. Moreover, researchers are advancing the field of malaria vaccine research and showing promising results from clinical trials to date ( 

I could go on, but you get the picture. Be on the lookout for many more new advances in medicine in 2013. As another year comes to a close, I would like to offer you, our readers, on behalf of the entire publishing staff of Clinical Geriatrics®, our heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, and productive New Year.