Introduction to Health Law Research
Health law is a broad topic that relates to a large part of the U.S. economy and overlaps with a number of traditional doctrinal areas, ranging from contracts and torts to administrative law, intellectual property, professional negligence and constitutional law.
Legal research related to health law may involve primary legal sources such as statutes, administrative agency regulations and guidance documents, court decisions and others--at both federal and state levels. Legislative history research may be helpful to determine the legislative intent behind particular statutory enactments. In some cases, agencies may initiate enforcement actions, make adjucatory determinations or hear appeals that affect the rights of private parties.
It is often best to begin your research with one or more secondary sources such as treatises, law review articles and topical practice guides. Secondary sources can provide background and context, and help you to frame your research issue; also, they may direct you to applicable statutes, court decisions or other primary sources. Consulting current awareness tools can help you to stay informed about legal developments and to review events from the last few years.
This guide is designed to introduce and provide access to resources available for health law research at BU Law. These include print materials in the library, free Internet sources, and many commercial databases (including but not limited to Lexis and Westlaw databases) that are available to members of the BU Law community.
Top 6 Tasks in Health Law
1. Find background information on a topic.
Start with a secondary source. BU Law subscribes to many specialized health law resources that will give you a good introduction to topics in health law, including background and current information.
2. Keep current on health law issues
Check a blog, sign up for daily news alerts or read through a collection of articles on your topic of interest. Find sources for keeping current here.
3. Find statutes and legislation
Find statutes for major laws like the Affordable Care Act or find or create a legislative history to help determine legislative intent.
4. Find regulations & other agency materials
Find regulations implementing health care laws, advisory opinions, reports, and agency guidance by starting here. Search the CFR or federal register, or look at regulations from select agencies like HHS.
5. Find agency information
Sometimes the best place to find guidance, reports, or other agency information is from the agency itself. Find links to the CMS, HHS, NIH, OIG, FDA, CDC, and other federal agencies and search their websites for your topic.
6. Find medical and non-legal information
Find business, economic, medical, and science literature using a variety of BU resources.