Four years ago, when Karen Giuliano went to a Boston hospital for hip replacement surgery, she was given a pale-pink bucket of toiletries issued to patients in many hospitals. Inside were tissues, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and, without a doubt, the worst toothbrush she’d ever seen.“I couldn’t believe it. I got a toothbrush with no bristles,” she said. “It must have not gone through the bristle machine. It was just a stick.”To most patients, a useless hospital toothbrush would be a mild inconvenience. But to Giuliano, a nursing professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, it was a reminder of a pervasive “blind spot” in U.S. hospitals: the stunning consequences of unbrushed teeth.
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