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PHOENIX -- A new Arizona court decision said lawsuits filed under a state law to protect vulnerable or incapacitated adults from neglect, abuse and exploitation can be filed against hospitals.

The state Court of Appeals decision overturns two trial judges' rulings that the Adult Protective Services Act doesn't apply to acute-care hospitals.

Hospital groups argued that the law was intended to apply only to long-term care facilities, not to hospitals.

The Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the law exempts physicians and certain other specified care providers but not hospitals.

The Court of Appeals decision was handed down on consolidated cases involving lawsuits filed on behalf of two people.

With this week's ruling by a three-judge panel, those lawsuits can now proceed in court.

Associated Press,

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