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Posts Tagged ‘research’

Health Care Law Research in the Limelight

May 21, 2012 2 comments

There are many ways to describe health law.  Health Law is comprised of not only the law of the delivery of health care and the financing of these systems, but also all areas of law that are intersected between law and health.  These areas of law include bioethics (e.g. the ethics of end-of-life decisions), criminal law (i.e. the role of the government protecting elders and children from mistreatment), medical malpractice (i.e. the deterrence method for civil liability for health provider negligence), and employment law (i.e. occupational health and safety and worker’s compensation standards).  You may find that there are individual categories that make up health law as a whole.  For many, health law is subdivided into laws governing health care law, public and population health law, bioethics, and global health law.  This overview is just a mere snapshot in the big picture of what is health law. For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on health care law.

Much of health care law focuses on legislative, executive, and judicial rules and regulations that govern the health care industry.  The intended audience of these laws include hospitals and hospital systems, public and private insurers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and the individuals who treat patients.  You may be familiar with some of the subcategories that include fraud and abuse dealing with insurance claims, food and drug laws and regulations (FDA), medical malpractice, and heath care mergers and acquisitions. Health care law researchers must deal with a variety of legal sources.  These sources range from the traditional statutes and cases to more complex administrative materials, which includes rules, agency decisions, commentaries, manuals, and guidelines.

Health care law exists at both federal and state levels.  The ability to regulate health care institutions is a policing power left to the states, and must further health, safety and the general welfare.  Licensure or certification is the primary method chosen by state legislatures to regulate the health care industry and its facilities. That being said, the major height of authority behind health care regulation is the federal-state Medicaid program.  In other words, a state’s authority under the Medicaid program is subject to federal regulation, specifically the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In order to participate in the Medicaid program, a state must submit a state plan that meets federal standards under the federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1396(a). Each state subscribes to different approaches for regulating the health care institutions within their borders.  To research each state, a 50 state survey may be extremely helpful for you to compare the differing laws and regulations. BNA, LexisNexis and Westlaw allow for you to access various 50 state surveys by topic.

Here are a few short (2-3 minute) video tutorials on how to access 50-State Surveys on each of the above resources.  For this example, assume you are looking for a state-by-state comparison of power of attorney laws and regulations:

As already noted, states have the ability to regulate health care facilities under their policing power.  Conversely, the federal government’s power to regulate this industry is derived from its financing authority or from the constitutional Commerce Clause.  The federal government as a purchaser, under the federal health care programs of Medicare and Medicaid, regulates health care facilities through a certification program.  Thus, in order to receive payments under either one of the federally funded insurance programs, the health care facility must be certified and sign a provider agreement with the Health Care Financing Administration for Medicare and with the state’s Medicaid agency for Medicaid. In sum, because the federal government provides a significant amount of funding to these programs, they are given the power to regulate the receiving facilities quality of care.

The majority of health care federal statutes are contained within the following U.S.C. Titles:

To make life easier, Westlaw and LexisNexis have created specific databases that house these collections of Health Care Federal laws:

But a better tactic than merely going and searching through these various databases or large statutory schemes, try to start your research with a research guide.  The following guides outline the various topics and relevant statutes for issues addressed in health care law.

Still have questions?  Jot it down in a comment and we’ll see what we can do to help you find the answer!

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Libguides in the Limelight

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

What is a Libguide? LibGuides is the amazingly popular, easy-to-use, web 2.0 library knowledge sharing system. The PCL is beginning to use Libguides as a means to create attractive multimedia content, share knowledge and information, and promote library resources to the Wake Forest community. Specifically, we are taking our static, out-of-date research guides and transforming them into an interactive learning module for a variety of topics. We are hoping to provide Wake Forest School of Law faculty, staff and students an excellent starting point for all of their law school research and library needs at the stroke of a key.

When would you use a Libguide?  You might want to use our Citation 101 Libguide when you’re writing a paper, because this Libguide breaks down the Bluebook rules into a workable, easy-to-understand format.   Or maybe, you are looking for study aids that you can borrow from the library.  The PCL has two Libguides that you can reference – Help for First Year Courses and Law Study Aids.  If you’re writing paper on a North Carolina legal topic, or have to complete a North-Carolina specific assignment for a drafting class (i.e. drafting a pleading or memorandum), look to our Libguide on North Carolina Legal Research.  The North Carolina Legal Research Libguide is designed to provide you the context and foundation necessary to complete your North Carolina specific legal research, whether it be common law, statutory code, administrative regulations, practical forms, secondary sources, journals, or municipal ordinances.

What are some of the best features about Libguides? Libguides allows for student, faculty and public users to interactive with the web interface, meaning the users can actively view multimedia right off of the website.  For example, we have integrated relevant podcasts into subjects so that you can hear experts discuss that topic while you are researching on your own.  Additionally, our Libguides link directly out to the library catalog so you can quickly locate books and other materials within the PCL’s collection.  We also have search boxes that allow you to search GoogleScholar, GoogleBooks, the PCL catalog, and the ZSR journal databases.  All of these features are in the works, so go now and try Libguides out on your own.

A Catalog That Doesn’t Come in the Mail

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

According to a recent New York Times article, some pilots are now using iPads in the cockpit for accessing operating manuals and checklists instead of lugging around piles of reference books in flight bags as they once did. One sure hopes they refrain from watching funny YouTube videos while in flight!

Several recent news and blog articles have discussed ebooks and online content; looking at issues like whether or not they can or should replace the physical printed word and showcasing innovative features that enhance the reading experience – like in-text links to explanatory information or even embedded soundtracks.  Is it possible that one day the online version of Black’s Law Dictionary will play Mozart? At any rate, ebooks and online versions of printed materials are here to stay and are often the preferred mode for reading and reference these days.

Different scenarios call for different formats, however. Ebooks and electronic content are an important option in academic environments. Print resources still are too, however, and will continue to be for many reasons. Those reasons include the need to accommodate different learning styles and the fact that some information is presented better in a physical format. More importantly for the legal field, print is often the official record.

Fortunately, you can find records for both print and online resources living together harmoniously in the Professional Center Library catalog. The aforementioned Black’s Law Dictionary, for example, is available through the library in print and online formats. You can do a quick search for a title in the catalog search box on the library website and get results for all different formats including physical and online resources, and in some cases videos, audio recordings, microform, etc.

An online resource is identified as [electronic resource] in the catalog.  If you only want to see titles in that format, click the post limit button on the right side of the results page. On the search limit page, select “computer file” as the option for limiting the search results by format.

Click the title Black’s law dictionary, 8th edition [electronic resource] for the full record and see information on how to access the content online. This title is available through Westlaw and requires a login and password.

Often, starting your research in the library’s catalog will help you save a lot time searching in disparate places. You will uncover a wealth of resources in just about any format you could need. True, you won’t find any books that play music but you never know what might be next . . .  stay tuned.

Breaking Bad (Habits)

I sometimes think there’s a cottage industry of criticizing student research habits, but to solve a problem you have to diagnose it first. You can’t steer students right until you know where they’re going wrong. An article reporting how students do – or don’t do – research has been gaining a lot of attention in academic circles in the last few weeks. The study underlying the article examined research patterns among Illinois undergraduates, focusing not on how they say they do research, but on how they actually do the research. Anthropologists observed students while researching and discussed the research with them afterward. The results have alarmed many in library and information literacy circles. Why?

  • Students relied heavily on Google. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but they were also using Google poorly. Rather than restricting themselves to sections like Google Scholar or Google Books, they used the basic interface that searches everything. Even when they used scholarly resources, students used “google-like” searching rather than using the tools and techniques the databases require for good results.
  • Students didn’t select the right scholarly resources for their information need – using databases that don’t provide current articles when they were specifically looking for something current, for example.
  • Perhaps most alarmingly, students failed to seek assistance from professional researchers who are at their disposal: librarians.

You may be wondering why I mention this. After all: you’re not an undergrad and very few of you are from Illinois. But it’s probably the case that the research patterns observed in this study reflect your undergraduate experience to some degree, and we’re all products of our past. It’s also true that as a student at Wake Forest School of Law you have a leg up: you are not trapped by your past research habits!

You have access to an experienced and well-trained library staff. Your research professor is a great place to start, whether you need help with a topic you’re covering in class, or with some research you’re doing for another purpose. But you’re not limited to their help; ask for information about what you can check out, or what’s on reserve, from the staff at the Circulation Desk. Ask substantive research questions from a librarian, staff or student assistant at the Reference Desk. And know that – while you may never encounter them – there is a “hidden” staff called the Technical Services department. They’re the ones who make sure books are on the shelves and links in the catalog work.

You have access to the best research systems for legal research, and that goes beyond Lexis and Westlaw. Databases like BNA and CCH are tailored to areas of law represented by these publishers; they have secondary sources like treatises and “looseleafs” that don’t appear on Lexis and Westlaw. You also have access to specialized databases like ProQuest Congressional (great for legislative history), Treaties & International Agreements Online (just what it sounds like!), and RIA Checkpoint (fantastic for tax)… not to mention all the subject-specific resources available through the Z. Smith Reynolds Library! You have so much at your fingertips, and librarians can help you learn to use each of these, and more.

As a 1L, you’re given explicit and detailed instruction in research techniques that go far beyond Googling, and as upper level students you can get even more specific research instruction in areas like Tax and Administrative law, as well as a broad Advanced Legal Research class. You should walk out of any of these classes knowing how to think about research, how to select the right tools, and how to use tools to get the information you need. You should also have picked up some habits like keeping good notes to track your research.

If all of this is old news to you – congratulations! Keep up the good work. But if you’ve gotten this far with bad research habits, don’t worry. Research is a skill, and it takes practice. You can learn good habits. If you’re not sure where to start, you have to flail around! Ask for help – a quick email, call or stop by the library may be all it takes to get you off on the right track.

Attribution: It’s Not Just for Law School OR How Not to Celebrate Your Law School Graduation

May 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Preston Mitchum, a student at N.C. Central University’s law school, was president of the student bar association, published two law reviews, and was asked to speak at his commencement ceremony. His future, even in this dreary economy looked bright, that is until he plagiarized a humorous speech that he discovered on YouTube.  Now he is now looking at the possibility of disciplinary charges.

Anthony Corvino, the student at Binghamton University who originally delivered the speech, confirmed that Mitchum had contacted Corvino via Facebook and asked permission to use a revised version of the speech. Although Corvino assented, Mitchum failed to credit Corvino when delivering the speech.

Mitchum is contrite and has apologized, but NCCU’s law dean, Raymond Pierce, who described himself as “disgusted” by Mitchum’s actions, has announced that a disciplinary committee would be considering possible sanctions.  While the dean admits that, since Mitchum has graduated there are limits on what the law school can do,  Pierce did point out that the matter may well be passed on to the North Carolina Board of Examiners.

View a local ABC report on the matter.