Executive Order No. 18 Limits Certain Non-Emergency Healthcare Procedures

Mar 25, 2020 | COVID-19 Legal Update

On March 23, 2020, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 18, entitled “An Order to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 By Limiting Non-Emergency Healthcare Procedures” (“Executive Order 18”).  A copy of the order may be found here.

Executive Order 18 orders all hospitals, surgical outpatient facilities, and dental service providers to halt non-essential and elective procedures, including medical procedures that are not necessary to address a medical emergency or present the health and safety of a patient, “as determined by a licensed medical provider.” Examples provided of “non-essential procedures” include dental hygiene and dental cosmetics, bariatric and cosmetic surgery, and joint replacement surgery.

Certain procedures, like surgeries related to cardiovascular disease are exempted and may still be performed (including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias) that would prolong life; oncological testing and treatment; pregnancy-related visits, including labor and delivery; organ transplantation; dialysis procedures; and emergency or trauma-related procedures.

Additionally, Executive Order 18 calls “[n]on-hospital healthcare providers” impacted by Executive Order 18 to provide personal protective equipment in their possession, including medical gowns, N95 masks, surgical masks, TYVEK suits, boot covers, gloves, and/or eye protection not required for emergency care, to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency by delivering it to the nearest Tennessee National Guard Armory.

Executive Order 18 went into effect at 12:01 a.m., March 24, 2020 and will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. April 13, 2020.

As of now, the plain language of Executive Order 18 only applies to hospitals, outpatient surgical facilities and dental service providers. There is no mention in this Order of restrictions on office-based services or procedures by medical providers.  This is an evolving situation and may change quickly – we will provide additional analysis as we learn more.


The COVID-19 pandemic and response is an evolving situation. All levels of government are engaged in the process of preparing new legislation, regulations and orders both to stem the spread of the virus and to provide relief to employers and employees.   We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as applicable, especially as such updates affect healthcare providers and their practices.