NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 53, granting limited COVID-related liability protection to healthcare providers.

“Hospitals, nursing homes, and health care workers are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic, and this EO provides protection from liability with respect to COVID-impacted treatment and resource availability, except in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct,” said Gov. Lee. “Because the law only allows us to take this action for healthcare providers, any other liability issues will need to be taken up by the General Assembly.”

Tennessee Hospital Association applauded the governor’s executive order and released a statement:

“Tennessee’s hospitals are grateful to Governor Lee for his latest executive action that recognizes the immense pressures faced by healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The liability protections granted in Executive Order 53 will provide hospitals and healthcare professionals with appropriate safeguards as providers respond to the growing number of cases and hospitalizations across our state.

Continually evolving health guidance from federal and state agencies helps ensure appropriate and effective treatment of all patients – both COVID-19-positive and those receiving care for non-virus-related conditions. However, as a result of the changing guidance in the midst of the pandemic, it is vitally important to protect healthcare providers from baseless or opportunistic litigation.

Today’s order rightly does not extend protections in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct, which underscores the commitment of hospitals to provide the safest and most effective care despite the challenges of our current environment.

I am incredibly proud of the work of hospitals over the past four months to care for communities and face the biggest public health crisis of our generation. THA and its members remain unwavering in our commitment to fight COVID-19 and support the health needs of all Tennesseans.”

Tennessee Hospital Association President and CEO Wendy Long, M.D.