Title:
Health care item storage and dispensing apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items comprises a container having multiple compartments. At least some of the compartments contain health care items and are labeled with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein. The container contains at least two different health care items with at least one compartment containing a health care item different from the health care item contained in a different compartment.



Inventors:
Jacqueline, Lord. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/176402
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
07/06/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/581, 206/803, 206/828
International Classes:
B65D69/00; B65D71/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl (Alan G. Towner 200 South Los Robles Avenue Suite 210, PASADENA, CA, 91101, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items, comprising: a container having multiple compartments, at least some of the compartments containing health care items and being labeled with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein, wherein the container contains at least two different health care items with at least one compartment containing a health care item different from the health care item contained in a different compartment.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the container includes a cover for closing the container.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the apparatus comprises a fastener for fastening the cover to the container.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus comprises a translation card secured thereto, the translation card including information relating to health care items and health care services readable in at least two languages.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein at least one of the compartments has a lid for covering the compartment.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the lid comprises opening means for lifting the lid from the compartment.

7. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the lid has the indicia thereon.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the apparatus has an attached handle.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein no two compartments contain the same health care items.

10. An apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items, comprising: a container having multiple compartments, at least some of the compartments containing health care items and being labeled with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein, the container containing at least two different health care items, the container including a cover for closing the container, the apparatus having a translation card secured thereto, the translation card including information relating to health care items and health care services in at least two languages, and the container includes an outer protective removable seal around the container.

11. A shipping box comprising: multiple containers for storing and dispensing health care items, each container having multiple compartments, at least some of the compartments containing health care items and being labeled with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein, and each container contains at least two different health care items.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the container includes a cover for closing the container.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the apparatus comprises fastening means for fastening the cover to the container.

14. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the apparatus comprises a translation card secured thereto, the translation card including information relating to health care items and health care services readable in at least two languages.

15. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein at least one of the compartments has a lid for covering the compartment.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the lid comprises opening means for lifting the lid from the compartment.

17. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the lid has the indicia thereon.

18. A method for a person having a symptom or illness to obtain a health care item comprising the steps of: a) selecting the apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items of claim 1; b) reading the indicia labeled on the compartment relating to the health care item contained therein; and c) selecting the desired health care item from the labeled compartment.

19. A method for making an apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items comprising the steps of: a) selecting a container having at least one compartment; b) placing health care items in at least some of the compartments, wherein the container contains at least two different health care items with at least one compartment containing a health care item different from the health care item contained in a different compartment; and c) labeling at least one of the compartments with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein.

Description:

BACKGROUND

A common problem, particularly for travelers in foreign countries, is locating needed health care products in the case of an illness or emergency. Travelers often face language barriers, and thus, cannot readily and easily locate the needed health care product in pharmacies or stores. A traveler may be hesitant to purchase medication in a foreign country not knowing whether the medication is equivalent to the Federal Drug Administration approved medication in the United States. This is especially true for travelers with specialized medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or even pregnancy.

However, traveling with multiple containers holding various health care items is cumbersome and expensive. Moreover, medicine bottles and plastic containers often leak, break, or accidentally open in the course of traveling.

Many attempts have been made to provide medicine storage and dispensing apparatuses. Reference is made to U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,638,603; 4,038,937; 4,572,376; 4,693,371; 4,962,491; 5,174,451; 5,181,189; 5,921,394; 6,032,085; 6,543,616; 6,550,618; 6,860,390; 5,579,941; 5,878,887; 4,038,937; 5,377,839; 4,695,954; 6,082,554; and 6,779,663.

These prior art medicine container devices suffer from one or more disadvantages, such as fragility, single compartments, small compartments, no carrying means, lack of labels with information indicating the symptom or illness felt by the user, and requiring the user to memorize dates or times.

SUMMARY

The present invention is directed to a health care item storage and dispensing apparatus for persons who need a compact and durable medicine container that houses several types of health care items and that overcome the disadvantages of prior art devices.

The medicine storage and dispensing apparatus of the present invention comprises a container having multiple compartments, at least some of the compartments containing health care items and being labeled with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein. The container contains at least two different health care items with at least one compartment containing a health care item different from the health care item contained in a different compartment. Optionally, no two compartments contain the same health care item.

The container preferably includes a cover for closing the container with a fastener for fastening the cover to the container. A translation card including information relating to health care items and health care services readable in at least two languages can be secured to the apparatus, preferably on the cover.

Preferably, at least one of the compartments has a lid for covering the compartment, and the lid comprises opening means for lifting the lid from the compartment. The lid can include the indicia relating to the health care item contained within the compartment.

Optionally, the apparatus has an attached handle.

The apparatus can also include an outer protective removable seal around the container.

The present invention is further directed to a shipping box containing multiple medicine storage and dispensing apparatuses.

To use an apparatus according to the invention, a person having a symptom or illness needing to obtain a health care item selects the apparatus, reads the indicia labeled on the compartment identifying the symptom, illness or type of health care item contained therein, and selects the desired health care item from the labeled compartment.

The apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items is made by selecting a container having at least one compartment, placing health care items in at least some of the compartments, wherein the container contains at least two different health care items with at least one compartment containing a health care item different from the health care item contained in a different compartment, and labeling at least one of the compartments with indicia relating to the health care item contained therein.

FIGURES

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood from the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a storage apparatus having features of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a portion of three of the compartments of another storage apparatus according to the present invention.

DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a medicine storage apparatus 10 having features of the present invention comprises a container 12 having multiple compartments 14 that are separated from one another by dividers 16. Each individual compartment 14 preferably has a lid 18 for closing the compartment 14 in order to secure a health care item 20 (shown in FIG. 2) placed within the compartment 14. Each lid 18 includes opening means 22 so a user can easily open and close the lid 18. The opening means 22 can include a raised portion for grabbing the lid 18 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2); an attached loop for placing a finger in the loop to open the lid 18; a recessed lip to place a finger thereunder to lift the lid 18; a slidable lid 18; or any other structures known for lifting a lid from a container. The outer surface of the lid 18 has indicia 24 corresponding to the health care item 20 contained in each compartment 14.

As shown in FIG. 1, the compartments 14 can differ in size in order to house different types of health care items 20. The lids 18 differ in size accordingly. The number of compartments 14 in each container 12 can also differ. The health care items 20 contained within the compartments 14 may be loose or pre-packaged, such as individually packaged medicines.

To further secure the health care items 20 within the compartments 14, the container 12 includes a cover 26 for closing the entire container 12. The cover 26 preferably has a fastener 28 to better secure the health care items 20 when the cover 26 is in a closed position. The fastener 28 can include separable fasteners, namely, hook and loop-type fasteners known as VELCRO strips (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2), locks, snaps, a hook and corresponding engaging knob, or any other convenient mechanism. To further protect and seal the health care items 20, there can be an outer protective removable seal 30 such as a shrink wrap enclosing the container 12.

Optionally, the apparatus 10 has a translation card 32 secured to it, preferably on the cover 26. As shown in FIG. 1, the translation card 32 is secured to the inside of the cover 26. Alternatively, the translation card can be secured to the outside of the cover 26 or the bottom of the container 12. The translation card 32 is secured to the cover 26 preferably with a strong adhesive, so that it may not be easily detached. Optionally, the translation card 32 can be secured with acetate fiber tape and other pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes, liquid adhesive or metal clasps; or the translation card can be enclosed in a protective sleeve 34 that is secured to the apparatus 10.

Optionally, the apparatus 10 has a handle 36 to enable a person to easily transport the medicine storage apparatus 10.

The apparatus 10 can be of varying sizes to be easily transported, but at the same time, contain a sufficient number of health care items 20. The shape of the container 12 can also vary. Although preferably the shape of the container 12 is rectangular, as shown in the Figures, the shape may also be spherical, square, triangular, or any other conventional shape for a container.

The container 12, compartments 14, dividers 16, lids 18, opening means 22, cover 26, and handle 36 can be made out of plastic such as nylon, polypropylene, acrylic, and polystyrene; metal; wood; or any other conventional materials to capable of withstanding repeated use. The outer protective removable seal 30 enclosing the container 12 can be made of shrink-wrap plastic, plastic, nylon, paper, or cotton.

Multiple containers 12 can be placed within a shipping box (not shown in the Figures).

In use, a person feeling ill uses the medicine storage apparatus 10 by preferably opening the outer seal 30, such as by tearing the plastic. The person then locates the fastener 28 to open the cover 26 attached to the container 12. Upon opening the cover 26, the person locates the appropriate symptom or illness indicia 24 (shown as “ABC” in FIG. 1) written on one of the lids 18. For example, if the ill person suffers from a cough, the person locates the indicia 24 “cough” on the lid 18. Other corresponding illnesses and symptoms indicia 24 corresponding with the health care items 20 contained in the compartments 14 can include, for example and without limitation, “cut” for adhesive bandages, “sore throat” for lozenges, “insect bite” for ointment, “diarrhea” for PEPTOBISMAL, “dandruff” for natural shampoo, “cold sore” for lip ointment, “migraine” for EXCEDERINE, “heartburn” for antacids, “constipation” for laxatives, “rash” for ointment, “blisters” for cushioning material, “allergies” for anti-histamines, or “tiredness” for sleep-aids.

Alternatively, the indicia 24 written on a lid 18 can identify the health care item 20 within the corresponding compartment 14. For example, if a compartment 14 contains a thermometer therein, the indicia 24 written on the lid 18 attached to the compartment 14 states “Thermometer.” The indicia 24 on the lid 18 can also identify both the symptom or illness and the health care item 20, for example, “migraine/EXCEDERINE.” The indicia 24 can be in languages other than English.

Alternatively, at least one of the compartments 14 can be empty to allow a compartment 14 for a person's own over-the-counter medication or prescribed medication. Thus, the lid 18 can be absent of any indicia 24.

By using the opening means 22, the person opens the lid 18 to the compartment 14. Upon opening the lid 18, the person finds a health care item 20 appropriate for treating a cough. The health care item 20 may be loosely placed in the compartment 14 or pre-packaged in a package or bottle. For example, cough syrup for treating a cough would preferably be in a closed bottle with instructions on the bottle. Pre-packaged health care items 20 generally have instructions on how to use the item 20 written on the outside package or bottle. Where the health care item 20 is loosely placed in the compartment 14, such as individual vitamins or pills, the indicia 24 on each lid 18 can include instructions on using the particular health care item 20 contained in that compartment 14. Optionally, an instruction card can be fixed to the inside of the lid 18 or placed loosely in the compartment 14 to inform the user how to use the health care item 20.

In the case where a person is unable to speak the locale's language in which he or she is in, such as when traveling, the translation card 32 includes information relating to health care items 20 and health care services in a minimum of two languages. The translation card 32 is to provide a user with typical questions and statements pertaining to locating necessary health care items and services. By way of example, the translation card 32 can include the following information: “English: Where is the nearest pharmacy? French: Où est la pharmacie la plus proche?” or English: “Where can I get a pregnancy test kit?” Spanish: “Dónde puede obtengo un juego de la prueba del embarazo?”.

Generally, the health care items 20 contained in the compartments 14 are for typical ailments; however, each medical storage apparatus 10 can be tailored to different types of users with specialized conditions. Thus, each specialized medical storage and dispensing apparatus 10 can include health care items 20 directed to the specialized condition. For example, an apparatus 10 can be directed to a diabetic, and thus, contain health care items 20 tailored specifically to a diabetic's needs, such as insulin. Other specialized health care item conditions can include, for example, asthma, high blood pressure, and pregnancy.

Although the present invention is useful for travelers in foreign countries, the storage and dispensing apparatus 10 can also be stored and used in the home, workplace, vehicle, commercial and private boats, and commercial and private airplanes.

To make the apparatus for storing and dispensing health care items 10 a person can select a container 12 having at least one compartment 14. The person can place health care items 20 in at least some of the compartments 14. Preferably, at least one compartment 14 contains a health care item 20 than another compartment 14 containing a different health care item 20. Each compartment 14 is then labeled with indicia 24 identifying a symptom or illness relating to the health care item 20 contained with that compartment 14. Preferably, a person attaches a cover 26 to the apparatus 10 and fastening means to the cover 26. Optionally, a translation card 32 relating to health care items and health care services readable in at least two languages can be affixed to the cover 26.

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.

All features disclosed in the specification, including the claims, abstracts, and drawings, and all the steps in any method or process disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive. Each feature disclosed in the specification, including the claims, abstract, and drawings, can be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

Any element in a claim that does not explicitly state “means” for performing a specified function or “step” for performing a specified function, should not be interpreted as a “means” for “step” clause as specified in 35 U.S.C. § 112.