On April 8, 2020, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 25, entitled “An Order to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 By Limiting Non-Emergency Healthcare Procedures” (“Executive Order 25”). A copy of the order may be found here.
Executive Order 25 went into effect at 12:01 AM CDT on April 9, 2020, and will remain in effect until 12:01 AM CDT on April 30, 2020. Executive Order 25 amends and supersedes Executive Order No. 18 (“Executive Order 18”), which was signed on March 23, 2020 (our summary of the previous Executive Order 18 can be found here).
Executive Order 25 orders all “healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities” statewide to postpone surgical and invasive procedures that are elective and non-urgent. Elective and non-urgent procedures are those surgical and invasive procedures that can be delayed until after April 30, 2020, because they are not required to (i) provide life-sustaining treatment, (ii) prevent death or risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function, or (iii) prevent rapid deterioration or serious adverse consequences to a patient’s physical condition if the surgical or invasive procedure is not performed, as reasonably determined by a licensed medical provider.
Executive Order 25 further directs healthcare providers and facilities to “limit attendance to essential personnel” in rooms where essential surgeries and invasive procedures are being performed in order to conserve personal protective equipment.
Executive Order 25 reaffirms Executive Order 18 with respect to restrictions prohibiting dental service providers from performing non-emergency procedures and the request that non-hospital healthcare providers impacted by Executive Order 25 provide personal protective equipment in their possession to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency by delivering it to the nearest Tennessee National Guard Armory.
Note: there are several important differences between Executive Order 25 and Executive Order 18. In Executive Order 25, there are no exemptions for specific procedures. Instead, procedures must meet the criteria set forth in Executive Order 25 discussed above. Additionally, the plain language of Executive Order 18 only applied to hospitals, outpatient surgical facilities and dental service providers. There was no mention in Executive Order 18 of restrictions on office-based services or procedures by medical providers. Executive Order 25, however, applies to all healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities and orders the postponement of all surgical and invasive procedures that are elective and non-urgent (except as discussed above), presumably including office-based procedures.
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.
For more updates on this topic and other legal updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Legal Resource Page by clicking here.