Medico-legal research

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Last Update

This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017


See also Core Titles in Medical Reference | Finding health information for British Columbians Bc flag.png | Health law | Print ordering | Top Information Sources in Biomedical Reference Services


There are many scenarios that could lead a legal researcher to do medical research. Examples include supporting plaintiffs’ attorneys or medical malpractice defense attorneys in a medical negligence case, supporting faculty doing research on health law issues, or supporting a legal clinic that fights for children with special needs. From a legal researcher’s perspective, medical literature is often needed for medical proof. Because the medical profession uses EBM to weigh the value of medical literature, legal professionals must apply the principles of EBM in order to apply the standards of proof to medical literature. The goal of EBM, to make decisions based on the best available medical evidence, parallels the goal of the legal system to make judicial decisions based upon the best evidence. Thus, EBM and the law correspond to each other. The clinician’s job of making the best clinical decision given the best available evidence is clearly aligned with the legal system’s job of making a fair decision given the evidence that comes closest to the truth.

See also

"A number of factors distinguish online medical journal data (such as MEDLINE/PubMed and Scopus) from legal research databases (LexisNexis and Westlaw); however, one major difference that could substantially improve the experience of users of medical journal databases is the adoption of a technique from legal research databases known as *shepardizing...*"


  • What is evidence-based medicine (EBM)?
  • Definition of EBM
  • Why EBM is the accepted trend
  • The intersection between law and EBM
  • What legal researchers need to know

Medical literature

  • Crafting a clinical question: PICO
  • Searching the medical literature: MeSH
  • Selecting the best studies: meta-analyses & systematic reviews
  • Appraising the best studies
  • Applying the results to the patient

See also Medico-Legal Journal

How to Do a MEDLINE Search

  • Selecting resources for the Law Library
  • Monographs and serials
  • Electronic databases
  • MEDLINE and related databases
  • Cochrane collaboration and the Cochrane Library
  • Embase
  • PsycINFO
  • Web of Science

Reference tools

  • Dictionaries
  • Textbooks
  • Drug and toxicology tools
  • Web sites
  • Evaluating web sites

Health law reference sources

The following sources provide good introductions to and overviews of health law.

  • Health Law (KF3821 .H4343 2000)

A one volume hornbook summarizing basic principles of health law from regulation of health care institutions to end-of-life decisions. Also available as an expanded, two-volume practitioner treatise (KF3821 .H434 2000).

  • Fundamentals of Health Law (KF3821 .H37 2008)

An introduction to the basic issues of health law from the American Health Lawyers Association.

  • Treatise on Health Care Law (KF3821 .T74 1991, no longer updated in print)
A four volume treatise on a range of health care issues. The library no longer updates in print and a current version is available on Lexis: Treatise on Health Care Law.
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