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Health Law Research Guide: Primary Sources

Primary Law Research: Health Law

U.S. health law is made by statutes, regulations, executive orders, and case law - federal and state. Researching this complex area of law will challenge any researcher. Use a secondary source to obtain background and context on health law topics and discover relevant statutes, regulations, and cases.

Federal Statutes

The Unites States Code publishes the enacted law of the U.S. that is both permanent and generally applicable. Do not use the official U.S. Code for legal research. Use an annotated code on Lexis Nexis or Westlaw.

Many of the statutes relevant for health law research are found in Title 42 of the U.S. Code (The Public Health and Welfare). Additional relevant material appears in other titles, such as Title 21 (Food and Drugs).

New Mexico Statutes

NMSA 1978 Chapter 24 - Health and Safety - contains many statutes relevant to health law research in New Mexico.
Other relevant statutes may be found in multiple other chapters, such as:
  • Chapter 23 - State Health Institutions
  • Chapter 26 - Drugs and Cosmetics
  • Chapter 28 - Human Rights
  • Chapter 32A - Children's Code
  • Chapter 59A - Insurance Code
  • Chapter 61 - Professional and Occupational Licenses
Search NMOneSource.com to locate official, annotated statutes. Use the statute annotations to discover relevant New Mexico appellate opinions.

Federal Administrative Law

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the principal federal agency regulating health matters in the U.S., such as public health, food and drug safety, health insurance, and health-related research.
The rules promulgated by federal agencies are first published in the Federal Register (proposed and final) and then codified into the Code of Federal Regulations. Both titles are available free from the Government Publications Office.
Best Practice: Search federal regulations (also sometimes called rules) from the health law practice centers in Bloomberg Law, Lexis Nexis, or Westlaw.

New Mexico Administrative Law

Multiple New Mexico agencies are charged with protecting the health of New Mexicans.
Title 7 of the New Mexico Administrative Code - Health - contains many relevant New Mexico regulations for health law research.
Other relevant regulations may be found in multiple other titles, such as:
  • Title 8 - Social Services (includes Medicaid regs)
  • Title 13 - Insurance
  • Title 16 - Occupational and Professional Licensing
You can browse the official New Mexico Administrative Code on their website; their search function is unavailable at this time.
To key-word search NMAC, use Westlaw or Lexis Nexis.

Federal Cases

Federal court opinions can be searched in many sources: Google Scholar, Lexis Nexis, Westlaw.
Best Practice: consult a health law secondary source to identify relevant court opinions or statutes. Save direct key-word searching of federal caselaw databases for verification or, when all else fails, as a last resort.
Next Best Step: search federal court opinions at the health law practice centers in Lexis Nexis or Westlaw.

New Mexico Cases


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