United States Patent 3574306

A needle protector defining a unitary entirely planar needle cover including planar wings of essentially uniform thickness molded with a reduced thickness bisecting fold line, each wing containing a semicylindrical parallel groove for circumscribing and binding against a needle which circumscribes an indwelling catheter tube, the sharpened tip of the needle being confined between the wings within the parallel grooves when the protector is folded together and permanently fastened in the folded position by a male-female union whereby the folded protector defines a continuously smooth exterior. Consequently, risks of personal injury to the patient and damage to the catheter are alleviated.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
16/225, 16/388, 16/DIG.13, 206/365, 604/174
International Classes:
A61M25/02; A61M5/32; (IPC1-7): A61M5/00
Field of Search:
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3324853Intravenous catheter protector unit1967-06-13Czorny et al.
3064648Intravenous needle assembly1962-11-20Bujan
2818871Hair barrette1958-01-07Beaudry

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Truluck, Dalton L.
1. A needle protector for disabling the sharpened end of an infusion needle which telescopically surrounds a pliable indwelling catheter tube comprising:

2. A needle protector as defined in claim 1 wherein the recess-defining means comprise two semicircular grooves extending the length of the protector, said grooves being oppositely disposed in the inside surfaces of said wings.

The present development relates to needle disabling or neutralizing devices and more particularly to a device for preventing undesirable movement of a hollow needle which normally surrounds an intravenous catheter.

It is common to use hollow needles for penetrating a patient's skin and vein to thereafter insert an intravenous catheter through the hollow of the needle for purposes of fluid infusion and the like. Commonly, the needle is thereafter withdrawn from the point of venipuncture while the catheter is allowed to remain in the vein. Normally, because of attachment of the proximal or free end of the catheter tube to conventional infusion apparatus, it is impossible to completely remove the needle from the catheter tube. Therefore, in usual practice, the needle is merely taped to the arm to prevent undesirable axial displacement of the needle along the catheter tube exterior of the patient's arm.

It is well known that frequently the needle surmounting the catheter tube is caused to move somewhat both laterally and axially relative to the catheter tube; also the patient regularly moves the arm to which the needle is taped. The relative movement of the needle and catheter is frequently of such a nature that the sharpened leading end of the needle cuts into the catheter tube thereby permanently damaging the tube and making continued use of the catheter tube undesirable. As a result, the catheter tube must be completely withdrawn from the arm and a new venipuncture and relocation of a new catheter tube are required.

Also, relative movement of the needle on the patient's arm frequently allows the sharpened end of the needle to penetrate somewhat into the flesh at one or more locations thereby severely irritating the flesh making inflammation and infection likely.

It is a primary object of the present invention to alleviate or substantially overcome problems of the mentioned type.

The presently preferred embodiment of the invention comprises a novel needle protector which shields the sharpened end of the needle from the patient's skin and which substantially obviates any damaging relative movement of the catheter tube and needle. The presently preferred embodiment comprises a single rigid blank comprising two oppositely disposed halves which may be rapidly and easily folded around and attached to the sharpened leading end of a conventional infusion needle to provide a protection device having a single essentially radially extending tab or handle disposed radially to one side of the needle and attached thereto at the sharpened leading end so that when the tab or handle is secured on the patient's arm, such as by taping, the needle is disabled or immobilized and prevented from penetrating either the patient's arm or the catheter tube.

Accordingly, it is another primary object of the present invention to provide an improved needle protector which may be rapidly and effectively assembled and which substantially disables the sharpened end of the needle subsequent to placement of an intravenous catheter in a patient.

It is another important object of the present invention to provide a novel method of disabling a needle subsequent to venipuncture.

These and other objects and features of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates in top perspective one presently preferred embodiment of the blank structure, used to form the needle protector, in its initial postmolded state;

FIG. 2 illustrates in bottom perspective the blank structure of FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 3 and 4 schematically illustrate preferred method steps relied upon in uniting the blank and needle to disable the needle.

With reference to FIG. 1, one presently preferred embodiment of the blank structure, generally designated 20, is illustrated in its open, postmolded state. The blank structure 20 is preferably formed of a substantially rigid plastic material, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, using conventional molding techniques and structurally comprises wings or half portions 22 and 24 disposed in essentially a single plane. Wings 22 and 24 present, as illustrated in FIG. 1, substantially flat planar surfaces 26 and 28. The wings 22 and 24 are essentially pentagonal in shape having outwardly extended substantially round head portions 40 and 42 and opposed shoulders 43, 44 and 45, 46 separated respectively from the head portions 40 and 42 by converging sides 35 and 37. The edges of the blank structure 20 are essentially smooth and free of sharp corners and edges to avoid irritating the skin of a patient.

The wings 22 and 24 are separated by a weakened fold line 41 which accommodates opposite relative radial displacement or folding of the wings 22 and 24 about a properly sized needle. Semicylindrical grooves 50 and 52 respectively exist in the surfaces 26 and 28 and extend along parallel axes throughout the entire axial length of the wings 22 and 24 between the fold line 41 and the shoulders 43, 44 and 45, 46.

Between the shoulders 43, 44 and the rounded head 40, the planar surface 26 presents an outwardly projecting disc 30 which is integral with wing 22. The disc 30 is provided with an enlarged peripheral flange 29 located at the outermost end thereof and a reduced diametral portion 31, the purpose for which will be subsequently more fully described.

The wing 24 is centrally provided with a stepped aperture 32 which is likewise located between the shoulders 45, 46 and the rounded head 42 of the wing 24. The aperture 32 is provided with a diametrically reduced portion 33 which defines an annular shoulder 39 in the aperture 32. The aperture 32 snugly receives the peripheral flange 29 and reduced portion 31 of the disc 30. Thus, when the wings 74 and 24 are sufficiently relatively arcuately rotated, the stepped disc 30 and the matching stepped aperture 32 engage to form a locked joint, after the peripheral flange 29 has been forced to "snap" through the smaller diameter portion 33 of the aperture 32.

With reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, one suitable method of disabling the sharpened end 62 of an infusion needle generally designated 60 is illustrated and will now be described. Initially, the infusion needle 60, having an intravenous catheter 66 disposed therein, is inserted into a vein (not shown) in a patient's arm 70 by forcing the needle 60 in a conventional manner through the flesh by the handle 65. After the catheter 66 has been sufficiently located within the vein, such as by squeezing the portion of the catheter 66 within the flexible plastic bag 68 and advancing the catheter through the needle 60 into the vein, the needle 60 is withdrawn from the puncture site axially along the exterior of the catheter tube 66.

The wings 22 and 24 are disposed generally horizontally, and the needle 60 is oriented with its axis in a plane somewhat parallel to the plane containing the blank 20, such that the sharp beveled end 62 thereof is located essentially central of the axial length of the groove 52. As best illustrated in FIG. 3, the needle 60 is placed in one axial groove, shown as axial groove 52, with the pointed tip of the needle bevel 62 disposed in the plane containing the weakened portion or fold line 41 between the wings 22 and 24. Clearly, the size of the grooves 50 and 52 must be compatible with the outside diameter of the needle 60 and vice versa.

With the needle 60 properly oriented and located within the groove 52, the wings 22 and 24 are moved arcuately relative to each other as indicated by arrow 61, the movement being essentially pivotal about the weakened portion or fold line 41. The projecting element 30 is inserted into and snugly received by the correspondingly sized aperture 32, and the flat faces 26 and 28 will meet. The groove 50 will then be disposed over the portion of the needle 60 and bevel 62 which is exposed above the groove 52 to fix the sharpened bevel 62 of the needle 60 within the wings 22 and 24.

The resulting structure, illustrated in FIG. 4, is a unitary protection device which shields the bevel 62 of the needle 60 from the arm 70 of a patient. Moreover, the needle 60 and the catheter 66 are fixed in axial alignment and relative movement therebetween is substantially obviated. Nevertheless, any relative movement which might possibly occur, will not damage the catheter 66 because axial alignment of the catheter 66 and the needle 60 is preserved by the grooves 50 and 52. When the needle 60 has been thus disabled, it is preferred that the unitary tab 20 be secured to the arm 70 such as with a strip of tape 72 to prevent inadvertent removal of the catheter tube 66 from the arm.

The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The present embodiment is, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore to be embraced therein.