Health Law

Health Reform and Legislation Information
The legislative research librarians at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) track legislation in the 50 states pertaining to health law issues. Find state-by-state abstracts on issues such as access, cost and quality, diseases and conditions, insurance, IT, long-term care and aging, government health insurance, mental health and substance abuse, pharmaceuticals, providers and facilities, public health and prevention, and women, children and families.

50 States Summary of Breastfeeding Laws

The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a summary of state laws on breastfeeding. According to the summary, 35 states have enacted legislation on breastfeeding issues. These include locations for breastfeeding, exemption from public indecency laws, breastfeeding in the workplace, jury duty for breastfeeding mothers and breastfeeding awareness campaigns. There are also a spattering of unique laws; for example, "Louisiana prohibits any child care facility from discriminating against breastfed babies."

The summaries indicate the state, code citation, a brief description of the law and the originating legislation.

50 States Summary of Osteoporosis Laws

The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a summary of state laws on osteoporosis, a bone condition that affects some women after menopause. The summary indicates that federal and state legislation has been introduced to fund medical research concerning this disease. Many state laws establish public awareness programs. A small number mandate insurance coverage for osteoporosis-related diagnostic and treatment services.

The summaries indicate the state, code citation, and a brief description of the law.

50 States Summary of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Laws

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a summary of state laws on sudden infant death syndrome. It notes that state laws vary significantly in this area, including in the definition of SIDS. State laws cover issues such as protocol for autopsies and other guidance for medical examiners, educational programs, counseling, special training for child care personnel and experts on child fatality review panels. The summaries indicate the state, code citation, and a brief description of the law.

ACLU Legislative Update

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) makes available information about pending legislation on several hot topics, including criminal justice, death penalty, drug policy, free speech and more. Browse the collection by issue or ACLU region. Stay up-to-date with these issues by requesting to receive email updates.

ADA Advocacy Network Legal Materials Bank

The American Diabetes Association makes available a collection of materials on discrimination issues prepared especially for lawyers and other legal professionals. They consist of training materials and background information as well as publications on litigation and legislative issues. Find articles, briefs and other documents on discrimination issues pertaining to those with diabetes.

AMA On-line Doctor and Group Practice Finder

The American Medical Association offers a search tool for finding physicians by name or by specialty. Information provided includes name, office location, phone, certification, professional status, education and residency.

American Hospital Directory, The

Supplied primarily with data collected from the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and SK&A Information Services, this site offers a mix of free and fee-based information. Typical hospital entries in the free category include hospital name, address, telephone number, Medicare provider number, organization type (e.g., voluntary nonprofit), number of beds, subproviders and distinct units, services, limited financials (gross patient revenue, non-patient revenue, net income/loss), and inpatient/outpatient utilization statistics.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health

This advocacy site offers information about current developments in the area of mental health. Find legislative alerts, information and documents pertaining to Americans with Disabilities (ADA), fair housing, and more.


The American Board of Medical Specialties offers fee-based access to data available in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists. According to site documentation, both the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) have designated the directory and the Web site as official primary sources for verifying physician certification. A free trial subscription is available.

California Physician License Lookup

The Medical Board of California makes available a database for finding information about a physician's license, including public disciplinary data, felony convictions, citations for minor violations of law, hospital disciplinary actions that result in termination or revocation of privileges, malpractice judgments and select malpractice settlements. Search by name, license or location.

CDC Environmental Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pulls together information on environmental health issues from its Web site. Find featured reports and events, collections of documents by subject and statistical resources. Topics include air quality, bioterrorism, cancer clusters, chemical weapons, food safety, hazardous waste, lead poisoning, water quality and more. The information is arranged so that it is easy to browse.


TIPS stands for Tobacco Information and Prevention Source. The Centers for Disease Control offers an extensive library of medical and legal information relating to tobacco and smoking.

Find reports, articles and fact sheets as well as related documents prepared by other groups including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the World Health Organization. The site offers tobacco-related statistics and news, automatic links to newly indexed MEDLINE articles, and a collection of tobacco industry documents.

The Tobacco Industry Documents sub-Web implements the July 17, 1998 executive memorandum that promised to increase public awareness and accessibility to tobacco industry documents. The site offers access to "the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository, which houses the largest public cache of tobacco industry documents found worldwide." It also provides search access to the 4B Index, an index of tobacco company documents released during the Minnesota litigation, the Minnesota Select Set, key documents used during the trial, and the Guildford  British American Tobacco Documents, key documents from the Guildford, England depository.

Consumer Guide to Handling Disputes with Your Employer or Private Health Plan, A

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation publishes this consumer guide to understanding employer or a private health plan's internal grievance procedure, as well as state external review programs. Sections include understanding coverage, appealing to a health plan, getting an independent opinion, how consumers fare under external review programs, and state-by-state external review programs. You may read sections of the report online or download (PDF) it in its entirety. Archived copies of the report are also available in PDF.

County of Sacramento (California) Food Safety Inspections

The County of Sacramento, California, offers a food safety inspections database. Search by facility name or location to find the inspection reports. The database supports partial name searching. Information provided includes the name and address of the food facility, identification of any major violations, date of the last inspection or re-inspection and the period of closure (if applicable.) In addition, the food inspection report itself is available (in Adobe Acrobat format) for most inspections since July 1, 2002.

CROETweb: Workplace Safety and Health Resources

The Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology at Oregon Health & Science University offers this portal to substantive information about occupational health and safety. Drill down by subject, or search the site, to find educational materials, articles, fact sheets, Q & A's, and more. Subjects include certain occupations and industries, chemicals, specific safety issues, and more.

Diet Drugs Claims Administration Web Site

This is the official Web site of the Nationwide Class Action Settlement with American Home Products Corporation. The Interim Claims Administrators, appointed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, manages the site.

The site offers the Official Court Notice package and accompanying forms as well as a Class Members' Guide, the original proposed settlement agreement and amendments, a table of exhibits to the settlement agreement, and Judge Bechtle's August 28, 2000 Memorandum and Pretrial Order approving the Nationwide Class Action Settlement with American Home Products Corporation. It also summarizes the proposed settlement's benefits to class members.

This U.S. government portal provides information on a variety of disability issues. Covering topics such as civil rights, education, employment, housing, health, income support, technology, transportation and community life, it facilitates finding legal and general information.


Administrators in Medicine offers this free site for finding physician state license data. The database covers doctors in participating states. Search by name, location or license number in most states to find the physician's name, license number, license status and expiration date, address and an indication of public disciplinary data on file. DocFinder links to the data as provided by non-participating states.

Doe Report, The

The site offers samples of medical images and sells medical legal exhibits, anatomical models and illustrations. It conveniently arranges its samples into browseable categories including medical specialties and parts of the body.

DTState Laws 2001

Designed for use primarily by employers, DTState Laws provides legal documents and information pertaining to drug and alcohol testing laws affecting the workplace. Find federal and state case law, federal and state statutes, federal rules, notes containing information about testing in specific states, weekly email updates, a q & a issues forum, and more. This comprehensive resource is not free. The subscription price includes access to the Web site and a CD-ROM.

FOI Online

FOI Services, Inc., a document retrieval company specializing in the retrieval of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), offers a searchable library of over 150,000 documents it has collected since its inception during 1975. Search the library for free. Purchase individual documents, many of which are available online. To find FOIA documents pertinent to specific companies, query the company name omitting inc, co, ltd, etc. Database coverage includes documents pertaining to drugs, devices, food, veterinary medicine, and biologics, guidelines, inspection reports, and Espicom Market Research Reports.

Genome Policy and Legislation Database

The National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, offers a database containing federal and state statutes, federal legislation, federal regulations, executive orders and other government documents pertaining to genetics and genetic testing. Search by document type, topic, source or keyword to find the full text of a document. Initial results appear as a chart, which shows the document title, type of document, source, date of publication and relevant topics. You can then retrieve the text of the document or a summary.

Hazardous Substances Data Bank

A subset of the National Library of Medicine's Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET), the database contains information about the toxicology of potentially hazardous chemicals. It includes information on human exposure, industrial hygiene, emergency handling procedures, environmental fate, regulatory requirements, and more. Search by keyword, chemical name or CAS number.

Health Lawyers Resource Center

American Health Lawyers Association offers a wealth of resources. Find health law news and commentary, a free weekly health law news update service, a collection of documents related to health law issues, and more. Access to some parts of the site requires membership with the association. Additionally, the use of some resources requires payment.

Health Privacy Project

The Health Privacy Project of the Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, Georgetown University, offers news and information about health care privacy issues. Find federal regulations and legislation, HPP congressional testimony, a report on state health privacy laws (over 200 pages), and more.


Tom Mayo, associate professor at Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, adjunct associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas - Southwestern Medical School and Of Counsel at Haynes and Boone, LLP, comments on health law issues. Recent entries cover topics like patients rights, managed care, specialty hospitals (cardiac, surgical) and medical ethics. This Weblog has no RSS news feed.

HealthLawProf Blog

Law professors S. Elizabeth Malloy and Thomas W. Mayo comment on legal developments affecting health care. Recent comments pertain to bankruptcies caused by illness or injury, privacy and security issues, and health savings accounts. The blog offers Atom and RSS feeds.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

Intended for use by medical researchers, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offer this site on health privacy. It provides access to legal and educational materials. Find the health privacy rule and revisions, sample authorization forms, a booklet entitled "Protecting Personal Health Information in Research: Understanding the HIPAA Privacy Rule," guidance on access and use of health information in databases, and more.

Integrity in Science

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) offers a database of information about scientists and medical researchers with ties to companies, educational institutions, or non-profit organizations. It reveals brief information about the topic of research and who funded it. Search by scientist, topic, university, or company. Or browse information about non-profit institutions that fund medical or scientific research.

International Digest of Health Legislation

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers the electronic version of International Digest of Health Legislation, which supercedes the print editions published from 1948 to 1999. The Digest contains English-language summaries of select national and international health legislation. When available, the abstracts also offer links to the text of documents. Moreover, a brief review of this resource found that it covers other types of legal documents as well, including regulations and guidance documents.

Justia Healthcare Law Overview

Provides overview of health care law, including links to articles, news, blogs, dockets, laws and regulations on the topic.

Kaiser Health News

Find daily reports on health policy, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health with searchable archives. These reports provide information about legislative, political, legal, scientific, and business developments. Registered subscribers (appears to be free, but I'm not certain) may sign up to receive email alerts.

Kaisernetwork also provides video broadcasts of health-related issues. Recent broadcasts covered health policy issues in the 107th Congress, state Medicaid spending and enrollment, and privacy issues. Researchers may search or browse the Healthcasts archive. Finally, the site provides an index of excellent Web sites devoted to health care issues., a subsidiary of, Inc., an online health and medical information provider, offers this subscription-based Web site for searching and downloading over 10,000 medically accurate illustrations. The site offers royalty-free use of the illustrations to subscribers.

In addition to the medical images database, the site promises a future database of "detailed anatomical images, including illustrated, fully dissectible male and female bodies (in anterior, lateral, medial and posterior views)." It also promises access to's medical encyclopedia. Free trial subscriptions are available.

MAUDE Database

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) offers a database containing summary reports of adverse events involving medical devices. Search by brand, manufacturer, keyword, or other criteria to find summaries of incidents involving medical devices. Updated quarterly, the database includes voluntary reports received since June 1993, user facility reports from 1991, distributor reports from 1993, and manufacturer reports from August 1996.

Medicaid Benefits

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation offers a database containing the results of a survey, jointly released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). It provides information about specific Medicaid benefits covered by states, the populations they serve (e.g., categorically needy, medically needy), coverage limitations, co-payments and reimbursement methodologies. You can search by state or service provided. The data was collected in January 2003.

Medicaid Prescription Drug Laws and Strategies

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports on state legislative actions regarding Medicaid prescription drugs. The report covers the years 2001 to 2004, and notes that "no new laws have been enacted, as of February 1[, 2005]." Cost strategies covered by the legislation include preferred drug lists, generic substitution, cost-sharing or co-payments, multi-state purchasing, pharmacy benefit managers, prior authorization, drug utilization review, dispensing fees, ingredient fees and supplemental rebates from manufacturers. The report annotates select enacted state legislation, which represents policy changes.

Medical Malpractice Tort Reform

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides an overview of state and federal legislative activity on medical malpractice tort reform. In a sidebar to the right, you will also find links to comparison charts for information about state medical malpractice laws. The charts illustrate provisions, such as the statute of limitations, damage awards, joint and several liability, expert witnesses, attorneys fees and patient compensation.

Medical Privacy (HHS)

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information about health information privacy. Find several fact sheets and FAQs on topics like disclosures to family and friends and how to file a health information privacy complaint. Also find educational materials, information for small business providers, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations and standards and information about compliance and enforcement.

Medico-Legal Reporter

Health Law Infosource, a division of Education Law Infosource Ltd., publishes this reporter written primarily for medical practitioners and their legal counsel. It provides summaries of relevant health law issues and decisions from all Canadian jurisdictions, and includes the facts of the case, causes of action, decisions, reasons and "Implications and Applications." The Web site provides sample articles from both newsletters as well as a topical index.


Subtitled The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program, MedWatch provides clinical information about safety issues involving medical products, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, biologics, medical and radiation-emitting devices, and, special nutritional products (e.g., medical foods, dietary supplements and infant formulas). Browse or search the safety alerts. For research pertaining to companies, try searching the company name. The site also offers an email alert service that summarizes new safety issues.

Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, The

Merck offers its new 1999 (17th) edition of The Merck Manual in its entirety. The Merck Manual "provide[s] useful clinical information to practicing physicians, medical students, interns, residents, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals in a concise, complete, and accurate manner." Covering topics related to internal medicine, the new edition adds "hand disorders, prion diseases, death and dying, probabilities in clinical medicine, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, rehabilitation, smoking cessation, and drug therapy in the elderly." Also find "A Centennial History," a review of medical practice during the past 100 years.

Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes and Major Floods

Appearing in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's MMWR, this report provides information on how to limit exposure to mold and how to identify and prevent mold-related health effects. It offers a detailed definition of mold as well as guidelines for assessing exposure, clean-up and prevention.

National Guideline Clearinghouse

The National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) is a comprehensive database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related documents produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research [AHCPR]), in partnership with the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP). Find abstracts about guidelines and their development, links to full-text guidelines, where available, and/or ordering information for print copies, as well as annotated bibliographies on guideline development methodology, implementation, and use.

The law firm Keller and Heckman LLP offers this informative Web site about legal issues pertaining to labeling and packaging products. Find current news, in-depth articles on regulatory and compliance issues, and questions & answers pertaining to the Food Contact Notification program. The site also offers email update and submit-a-question services.

Pain & The Law

The Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University and the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics (ASLME) team to provide this Web site devoted to legal issues involving pain management and palliative care. It offers commentary, including news items, articles from ASLME and other quality journals, direct links to relevant data in commercial databases (pay-to-access) like Lexis and Westlaw, case summaries with links to the full-text in free and commercial sources, and more.

Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement

The Department of Health and Human Services offers poverty guidelines from 1982 to present. Guidelines include Federal Register references or text. Also find additional information and references; for example, an explanation of the difference between poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines.

Premarket Approvals Database

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) offers this database containing summaries of premarket approvals. Regulated Class III devices, under section 515 of the Medical Device Amendments Act of 1976, require premarket approval by the FDA. Search by applicant, trade name, or other criteria to find summaries of premarket approvals. Some summaries contain links to PDF copies of the approval order, summary of safety and effectiveness, labeling, and other consumer information.

Premarket Notification (510k) Database

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) offers this database containing summaries of premarket notifications (PMNs). PMNs notify the FDA about a manufacturer's intent to introduce a device into commercial distribution for the first time, or to reintroduce a device that will be changed or modified to the extent that its safety or effectiveness could be affected. Many records contains links to a PDF copy of the 501k notification. Search by applicant, device, or other criteria.

Prescription Drug State Legislation

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) publishes this 2005 report on state prescription drug legislation. It provides information about laws enacted as well as pending or recently considered legislation. There are also links to additional related resources.


The National Library of Medicine provides access to MEDLINE -- a database of bibliographic information about articles in the medical sciences published since about 1966 -- and citations to newer publications not yet appearing in MEDLINE.

Respiratory Protection

Find a collection of basic and legal information on respiratory protection issues compiled by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. The guide covers standards (with links to corresponding legal documents), recognizing workplace hazards, possible solutions to workplace hazards, and more.

South Africa HIV/AIDS Case Law Database

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre maintains a database containing judicial decisions on HIV/AIDS-related issues from in Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, India, United Kingdom, Canada, United States and other countries. You may browse the database (it's small) by date or search it. Search criteria include the case name, country, subject category, date or keyword.

The full-text of matching decisions appears behind the "link to case" entry in the search results. Formats include HTML and PDF.

Technical note: The date search option did not work during our visit.

Substance Abuse Legislation Database

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks state legislative action on substance abuse. The database contains the bill number, sponsors, title, summaries and links to bills enacted by the legislatures. Search individual states or all states. You may also search by category, bill type, bill number or keyword.

Treatment Advocacy Center

This nonprofit organization advocates for "timely and humane treatment for Americans with severe brain disorders who are not receiving appropriate medical care." Its Web site offers briefing papers (articles) and fact sheets about various mental disorders as well as treatment and diagnosis issues. It also provides an index of links to related general, legal and medical resources, information about the activities of states and hospital closures. A very useful database -- called Preventable Tragedies -- provides summaries of incidents of abuse and other crimes, suicide, and victims.

Virginia Department of Health Restaurant Inspection Website

Virginia Department of Health provides a link page for finding inspection reports pertaining to restaurants, fast food operations, delis, cafeterias, and other types of food service establishments inspected by local health departments. First, select the relevant county from the left-hand menu. Then drill down the alphabet to find the food service of interest.

Washington Local Restaurant Inspections

10 April 2007. Revised 18 April 2008. Washington State Department of Health provides a page of links to county food safety/restaurant inspection databases. Restaurant health inspection reports are public record in Washington. The Web site explains that the public may review inspection reports on-site at the relevant local county office. But a handful of Washington counties also make the reports available online.

Who's Certified

The American Board of Medical Specialties offers a free unofficial database for verifying a doctor's certification. This resource appears to replace the former Certified Doctor Verification Service. Search by name or practice type to obtain information about certification. The ABMS also offers an official version of the database with more information about a doctor at BoardCertifiedDocs.