Title:
Disposable flexible cover for hospital remote control unit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable plastic cover for a patient remote control unit in a hospital setting, is disclosed which comprises a pouch sized and configured to correspond in size and shape to said remote control unit, and having an opening defined by a marginal edge; a closure means comprising a flap extending from the pouch means adjacent the marginal edge, said flap adapted for securement to the pouch means to contain said remote control unit; and releasable engagement means disposed on at least one of said pouch means and said closure means and positioned to reside there between when said flap is in contact with said pouch means, to securely contain said remote control unit. The covers of the present invention are easily manufactured and used, and provide a secure barrier to the spread of infection from the use of the remote control units.



Inventors:
Steinberg, Jay C. (Marlboro, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/011485
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
01/24/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/701, 128/898
International Classes:
B65D65/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COLLADO, CYNTHIA FRANCISCA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hoffmann & Baron LLP (6900 Jericho Turnpike Suite 200, Syosset, NY, 11791, US)
Claims:
1. A disposable flexible cover for the sanitary reception and containment of a remote control unit for use in a hospital setting, said cover comprising: a. pouch means sized and configured to correspond to said remote control unit, said pouch means having an opening defined by a marginal edge; b. closure means comprising a flap and extending from said pouch means adjacent said marginal edge, said flap adapted for securement to said pouch means to contain said remote control unit; and c. releasable engagement means disposed on at least one of said pouch means and said closure means and positioned to reside there between when said flap is in contact with said pouch means, to securely contain said remote control unit.

2. The cover of claim 1 wherein said releasable engagement means comprises an adhesive strip located on said pouch means on the outer surface thereof, and located for direct adhesive engagement with said flap when said flap is placed against said outer surface of said pouch means.

3. The cover of claim 1 wherein said flap defines an opening therein, located adjacent said marginal edge, said opening configured to permit the extension there through of a connector cord integral with said remote control unit.

4. The cover of claim 1 wherein said cover is constructed from a flexible plastic material, which plastic material is selected from the group consisting of polyvinyl acetate, polyethylene and cellulosic resins.

5. The cover of claim 4 wherein said flexible resinous material has a thickness of about 1.25 mil.

6. The cover of claim 1 wherein said cover is shaped and dimensioned to snugly receive and contain said remote control unit.

7. A method for the preparation of a flexible cover for the sanitary reception and containment of a remote control unit in a hospital setting, said method comprising: a. providing an endless web of a flexible plastic material to defining a fold line longitudinally along said flexible web; b. folding said web upon itself, along said fold line, to form a pouch proximal to said fold line, and a cover flap distal thereto; c. applying heat sealing means in serial fashion at spaced intervals and in a direction transverse to said fold line and the longitudinal dimension of said web, so as to define said individual covers; d. providing a score line between said adjacent covers to enable the packaging thereof in multiple unit, tear away bundles; and e. retrieving said bundles from said web and packaging said bundles as dispensable units for use in said hospital.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein after step c, an opening is formed in said flap for the protrusion of a power/data cord from said remote control unit.

9. The method of claim 7 wherein, in step d, said adjacent covers are severed from each other.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein, following step b, a score line is formed along said flap, parallel and distal to said fold line and spaced inwardly from the outer edge of said flap.

11. A method for inhibiting the transmission of infectious agents in a hospital, comprising enclosing a remote control unit used by a patient, in a disposable flexible cover of claim 1.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119 of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/897,080, filed Jan. 24, 2007, the contents of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to sanitary covers for hospital equipment, in particularly to a disposable plastic cover for a hospital remote control unit, and particularly to such units as are given to and used by patients at bedside.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

A variety of disposable plastic covers have been employed in diverse areas in healthcare, such as in the dental field, to attempt to limit the transmission of infections and disease between patients, healthcare providers and others who come in contact with the same. Having said that, it is well known that the hospital environment is an active breeding ground for numerous infections, most of which at this date, are resistant to conventional antibiotics. In particular, such infections as the methicillin resistant s. aureus (mrsa) are well known and rampant.

A study conducted at the University of Arizona revealed that the television remote control/nurse call button unit that is routinely provided to hospital patients, is a leading cause of transmission of infection as a carrier of bacteria in the patient's hospital room. In the particular study, a comparison and measurement was made of the remote control unit, in comparison to the actuator handle on a hospital room toilet, and it was determined that the former had a higher bacterial count than the latter. A related study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that hospital acquired infections affect as many as two million patients per year, and are attributable for in excess of ninety thousand deaths.

Clearly, the need for controlling, minimizing and if possible, reducing or eliminating such disease transmissions in the hospital environment is important and critical. Thus, it is toward the achievement of such objectives that the present invention is directed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention a disposable flexible cover for the sanitary reception and containment of a remote control unit used in a hospital setting, is disclosed, which comprises a pouch means that is sized and configured to correspond in dimension to the said remote control unit. The pouch means comprises container which has an opening defined by a marginal edge. A closure means extends from a portion of said opening adjacent the marginal edge and defines a flap which is adapted for the securement to an outer surface of the pouch means when the flap is folded over the opening, so as to thereby contain the remote control unit. When folded over the pouch means, the flap is adapted to engage the outer surface of the pouch means and by doing so, does not come in contact with or is not adjacent to the outer surface of the remote control unit. A releasable engagement means such as an adhesive strip or other fastening means, is provided to reside between the adjacent surfaces of the flap and the outer surface of the pouch means at the point where the two would come in contact, and thereby secures the cover in its containment of the remote control.

In a variation of the cover of the invention, an opening is provided along the flap at a location adjacent the opening of the pouch means, to allow the extension and travel of an electrical connector cord of the like, in the instance where the remote control is so designed and configured.

In a particular embodiment of the invention, the engagement means is a strip of adhesive material that may be disposed on either the adjacent marginal edge of the flap adapted for contact with the pouch means, or correspondingly on the pouch means itself. In either instance, the adhesive would be secured by a releasable cover strip that would be removed before replacing the flap and the pouch means into contact with each other. Alternatively, other means for releasable engagement could be used, such as in the instance where a reusable device or cover is designed, in such instance, the cover itself might be of a sterilizable flexible material and would be constructed in more sturdy fashion, in such instance therefore the releasable engagement means might be a corresponding Velcro® strip device installed on both the outer surface of the pouch means and the adjacent surface of the flap.

In a particular aspect of the disposable cover embodiment of the invention, the cover may be constructed from a variety of flexible, natural and synthetic resins, and particularly polyethylene and polypropylene, as well as vinyl resins such as polyvinyl acetate, as well as cellulosic resins such as cellulose acetate and the like. The thickness of the flexible sheet comprising the cover of the present invention should preferably be 1.25 mil as this has been found to be particularly important for the operation of the controls on the remote and for the transmission of any audible sounds that may issue from the remote control. While a particular remote control/patient call device will be illustrated herein, it is to be understood that a variety of such multiple function devices are presently in commercial manufacture, use and distribution in the hospital environment, and the present invention is therefore contemplated to extend to all such devices within its spirit and scope.

In a further embodiment, the invention extends to the preparation of the disposable flexible cover by a method which comprises:

a. providing an endless web of a flexible plastic material to defining a fold line longitudinally along said flexible web;

b. folding said web upon itself, along said fold line, to form a pouch proximal to said fold line, and a cover flap distal thereto;

c. applying heat sealing means in serial fashion at spaced intervals and in a direction transverse to said fold line and the longitudinal dimension of said web, so as to define said individual covers;

d. providing a score line between said adjacent covers to enable the packaging thereof in multiple unit, tear away bundles; and

e. retrieving said bundles from said web and packaging said bundles as dispensable units for use in said hospital. In an alternate embodiment, step d comprises severing the adjacent covers, and thereafter assembling the individual covers to form the dispensable units.

The present invention further extends to a method for inhibiting the transmission of infectious agents in a hospital, which comprises enclosing a remote control unit used by a patient, in a disposable flexible cover of the present invention.

Accordingly, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a sanitary cover to inhibit the transmission of infections in a hospital environment resulting from patient use of a remote control unit at bedside.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a cover as aforesaid, that is inexpensively and easily manufactured and used.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a cover as aforesaid, that provides secure and simple application and removal and corresponding disposal.

It is a yet further object of the present invention to provide a method for the manufacture of a cover as aforesaid, that is rapid and low in cost.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a method for the inhibition of the spread of infection transmitted from the contamination of the surface of hand-held devices used by patients in a hospital setting, by enclosing such device in a disposable flexible cover designed to snugly and securely contain said device.

Other objects and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the ensuing detailed description which proceeds with reference to the following illustrative drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a plan view showing the broad surface of the cover of the present invention, in the flattened position with the pouch and flap longitudinally extended.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view showing the cover of FIG. 1A expanded so as to visualize the opening and cavity area of the cover in its disposition for receipt and containment of a remote control.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to that of FIG. 1B showing the cover of the present invention containing a representative remote control unit.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view similar to that of FIG. 2 showing the opposite broad surface of the cover of the present invention with the remote control unit disposed therein, illustrating the engagement of the flap with the outer surface of the pouch means.

FIGS. 4A-4D are plan views depicting a non-limiting illustrative manufacturing method for the fabrication of the covers of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary plan of the border between adjacent covers as depicted in FIGS. 4A-4D, illustrating the disposition of serrations for ‘tear-away’ separation therebetween.

FIG. 6A is a fragmentary plan view similar to that of FIG. 5, illustrating an alternate embodiment for the manufacture of a plurality of covers in a dispensable form.

FIG. 6B is a fragmentary plan view similar to FIG. 6A, illustrating the separation of adjacent covers from each other, as by cutting.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating a plurality of the covers prepared as described with reference to FIG. 6A, assembled for sequential tear away release.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

From the foregoing description and illustrations other objects and advantages can be appreciated and may readily be attained.

Referring now to the Figures in which like numbers designate like parts, and particularly with respect to FIG. 1A, cover 10 is shown as a flat blank and comprises pouch means 12 which, as illustrated in FIG. 1B, is adapted to expand to offer a chamber for the reception and containment of a remote control unit.

Referring to both FIGS. 1A and 1B, pouch means 12 has an opening which is defined by margin 14 which extends around the perimeter of the same. Closure means 18 extends from pouch means 12 and defines flap 20 that, as illustrated herein, is adapted to fold over and thereby cover the opening defined by margin 14, when a remote control unit is contained within cover 10.

Cover 10 includes a releasable engagement means that is disposed on at least one of the pouch means 12 or the closure means 18, to enable the secure engagement between the two when a remote control unit is inserted and contained. As stated earlier, a variety of releasable engagement means can be utilized to secure flap 20 to the outer wall or surface 13 of pouch means 12. For example, and as illustrated, an adhesive strip illustrated and shown at 22, could be disposed either on the outer surface 13 of pouch means 12 as illustrated, or alternately, could be disposed on the mating surface of flap 20 at a location that would correspond to a point of contact between the adjacent surface of flap 20 and the outer surface of pouch means 12. Adhesive strip 22 as shown, can be a releasable pressure sensitive composition of which many are known in the art. In the instance where such a composition is utilized, a non-adhesive removable barrier may be disposed there over during manufacture, which would then be removed in use to facilitate the bonding between the adjacent surfaces of flap 20 and outer surface 13 of pouch means 12. Alternately, although not illustrated specifically herein, both flap 20 and outer surface 13 of pouch means 12 could be provided with an interactive closure means, such as a Velcro®-like attachment not specifically shown, or a combination of adhesive materials that would co-act upon contact. It is to be understood that the specific composition of the adhesive or, more generally, the nature of the closure means may vary within the skill of the art, so that the invention herein is not limited to a specific such composition or device, but rather encompasses all such compositions and devices within its scope.

Referring further to the Figures and particularly, to FIG. 2, cover 10 is illustrated in use, with a remote control unit labeled 24, contained therein. In FIG. 2, the view of the cover and remote control unit depicts the upper operating surface of said unit so that the general controls are visible. In the embodiment illustrated in the Figures and particularly in FIGS. 2 and 3 hereof, it can be noted that remote control unit 24 is connected to the equipment being operated by a cord 26. To facilitate the secure containment of remote control unit 24 in this configuration, flap 20 is provided with an opening or cutout 28 that allows the extension there through of cord 24. The cutout or opening 28 is likewise illustrated in FIGS. 1A-3 and in FIG. 4D discussed later on herein with respect to a representative method of fabrication.

As discussed earlier, cover 10 may be particularly fabricated from a flexible plastic material, and generally one that is transparent so that the indicia and controls in the remote unit 24 can be visually identified and thereby operated. The plastic material from which cover 10 may be fabricated can vary within the skill of the art, and can be both natural and synthetic resins including, vinyl resins such as polyvinyl acetate, polyethylene and polypropylene and cellulosic resins including cellulose esters and ethers, just to name a few. One aspect of the flexible material constituting the cover of the present invention, is that it should be of a thickness on the order of 1.25 mil. This particular thickness has been found to facilitate the operability of the remote control through the said cover and likewise, to be permissive for any sounds that would be desirably emitted or heard by use of such remote control.

As discussed above, the cover of the present invention is capable of rapid, commercial scale manufacture, in accordance with processes and corresponding equipment well known in the art. For example, and as illustrated with respect to a first embodiment, in FIGS. 4A-4D, the cover may be fabricated from an extended web of clear plastic sheet material, 30, which may be initially fed from a payout reel, not shown, to a first station where, as illustrated schematically in FIG. 4A, a fold line 32 is imposed longitudinally along web 30. Thereafter, web 30 may be fed into a set of rollers, not shown, where it is folded upon itself along fold line 32, and thereby appears as shown in FIG. 4B.

Turning now to FIG. 4B, web 30, in one embodiment of manufacture, may be fed into a station, not shown, where a plurality of parallel heated rollers or the like, would be positioned in spaced-apart disposition from each other and adapted for travel in a direction transverse to the longitudinal dimension and direction of travel of web 30. From the figure six such roller sets could be set up, and would correspond to the arrows shown to the left of web 30. Naturally the number of such roller sets could vary within the skill of the art, as could their construction and specific operation, so long as their operation causes the heat sealing or bonding along their line of travel, to define and thereby form successive individual and adjacent cover units thereby. As shown in FIG. 4B, such rollers could be positioned, for example, as depicted by the arrows, to pass across the web, and by doing so, to heat seal or bond the web and to thereby form the lateral edges 34 of the individual and successive covers 10.

Subsequent to the definition and disposition of lateral margins of the respective adjacent covers 10, the thus processed web 30 could travel to a next downstream station, where a continuous bead or ribbon of a flowable adhesive, corresponding to adhesive 22, could be applied. As discussed earlier, adhesive 22 may be disposed on the outer surface 13 of pouch means 12 as illustrated, or could be laid down on the mating surface of flap 20, as in either instance, the adhesive would be positioned to hold the adjacent surfaces of the flap and the pouch together in use. Concurrently with or just downstream from the application of adhesive 22, a removable (pull-away) barrier strip 36, formed e.g. from a plastic sheet material having one surface thereof treated with a release coating, could be applied from a payout reel, to said adhesive 22 to prevent premature and unwanted bonding prior to use.

Thereafter, the heat sealed web defining the plurality of connected covers, could be moved further downstream to a next station, not shown, where corresponding rollers or blades could provide serrations such as along the heat bonded margins, in a position medial to the lateral edges of said bonded margins, so as to facilitate the detachment of adjacent covers from each other in the instance where the covers are packaged for use, as described later on herein.

Referring now to FIG. 5, with respect to the covers prepared according to FIGS. 4A-4D, adjacent covers 10 have their lateral borders 34 weakened along a line medial thereto, by serrated line 38. Thus, in the instance where a plurality of covers 10 are either wound around a dowel, or folded over each other alternately, e.g. in ‘zig-zag’ fashion (neither embodiment shown) to form a dispensable unit, the user would merely pull and tear off a cover from the rest of the dispensable unit.

Referring again to FIGS. 1A-4D, and in the instance as illustrated herein, where cover 10 is to be used with a remote control unit having a corded power connection, such as remote unit 24 with cord 26 illustrated and discussed earlier, web 30 could travel further downstream to a station where openings such as opening 28 could be sequentially punched or die cut through flap 20, to permit the passage of cord 26 therethrough.

Referring now to FIGS. 6A-7, the covers of the invention may be manufactured and assembled for use in an alternate configuration. Thus, as shown in FIG. 6A, covers 10 may be prepared from an extended web as described with reference to FIGS. 4A-4D. In the present embodiment, the web would be wider than web 30 illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4D, and would include an anchor 42, extending from the free end of flap 20 and separable therefrom in use, by the provision of a serration 44. Serration 44 could be imposed at a station just upstream of the final assembly of the covers 10 of this embodiment, so that the illustration of FIG. 6A represents the final disposition of the covers before they are separated for final assembly into a dispensable unit.

The next step in the manufacture of a dispensable unit in accordance with this embodiment, is the separation of the adjacent covers 10 from each other. Referring to FIGS. 6A and 6B, the lateral borders 34 of adjacent covers 10 could be completely severed, rather than serrated, along a cut line 40. Accordingly, the covers 10 of FIG. 6A could be indexed to a station downstream of their final assembly, where one or more cutters, not shown could travel across the web and along the medial portion of borders 34, at cut line 40, to sever adjacent covers from each other. The severed covers could then be gathered and stacked in alignment with each other. Such stacks could vary in number of covers within the skill of the art.

After stacking, the covers could be e.g. fastened to a base 46, as by staples or the like, not specifically illustrated herein, and would then be capable of mounting in a suitable dispenser for end use. Such a dispensable unit is shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, adjacent covers 10 would be suspended from base 46 by anchors 42. In use, each cover 10 would be torn away from anchor 42 along serration 44, thereby exposing the next adjacent cover for use.

The foregoing description is illustrative and is provided to offer a best mode of carrying out the manufacture of the cover of the present invention. The specific sequence of steps could vary from that described above, so that, for example, the die cutting or punching of openings 26 could take place before the serration of the lateral margins of adjacent covers 10.

Accordingly and as described above, the covers 10 of the present invention could manufactured for delivery and distribution in commercial quantities and packaging, to comprise dispensable units, such as on rolls, or in alternately folded relationship, in the latter instance such as with facial tissues and the like. Such dispensable units could be easily and inexpensively located for access and use either in or adjacent to the rooms of the hospital where remote control units are located. The deployment of the covers of the invention would facilitate ease of use in accordance with best practices for hygiene, so that successive covers could be easily removed from remote control units and replaced, as on patient discharge or transfer from a particular hospital location, so that a clean and sanitary cover would always be present on a remote control unit. It can be appreciated that the use of such covers on a regular basis will provide an inexpensive, expedient and effective means for reducing the incidence of infection in the hospital setting.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the illustrations described and shown herein, which are deemed to be merely illustrative of the best modes of carrying out the invention, and which are susceptible of modification of form, size, arrangement of parts and details of operation. The invention rather is intended to encompass all such modifications which are within its spirit and scope as defined by the claims.