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Whenever I have a list of multiple singular nouns in Spanish, I don't know if the modifying adjective should be singular or plural (update: note that I want this one adjective to modify both preceding nouns).

Example:

El médico tiene la autoridad para restringir la libertad de un paciente con tal de que sea necesario para dar el cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuado.

Or should it be el cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuados or something else?

Can someone please help me identify the correct way to do it, and why?

Update:

A parallel to this question that makes me think of it is this example with nouns and verbs: La ropa y el equipaje del paciente serán devueltos. Notice you have two singular nouns followed by a verb conjugated in the third person plural.

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It depends.

If you mean that both nouns have the same property, then the adjective is plural.

[cuidado médico adecuado] + [tratamiento adecuado] = cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuados

On the other hand, if the property pertains only to the noun with which it's attached, then the adjective is singular.

[cuidado médico] + [tratamiento adecuado] = cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuado

In the sentence that you give us by example it's really difficult to distinguish one meaning from the other, so I would say both forms are fine.

But sometimes the grammatical difference implies a critical difference in reality:

Una esfera y un cubo blanco. (Here the sphere is not necessarily white.)

Una esfera y un cubo blancos. (The sphere is white).

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    Qué útiles son los paréntesis matemáticos para estas situaciones. Así sería más fácil ver la diferencia entre (una esfera) y (un cubo blanco) y (una esfera y un cubo) blancos. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Feb 7 '17 at 11:11
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    I would add that besides number, there's also gender agreement. If all the noun phrases are feminine, the adjective will be feminine; if any of them is masculine, the adjective will be masculine. – pablodf76 Feb 7 '17 at 12:24

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