Title:
ICU hospital shorts
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pair of hospital shorts having releasable fasteners such as snaps along the inseam or inner thigh portions of the shorts and along the midline or fly of the shorts. With the fasteners unfastened the shorts are positioned laid out generally flat and approximately centered under the patient. The left and right ends of the shorts are then wrapped over the patient's lower torso, and the inseams and fly may be fastened to provide shorts that do not have to be pulled over the legs of the patient, and that are easily donned or put on the patient with minimal effort. An optional drawstring along an upper edge of the shorts may then be tied, to further secure the shorts about the patient. The fly and/or inseam fasteners may be selectively unfastened to provide access to the user as required, for example by medical personnel.



Inventors:
Carlson, Melissa L. (Vancouver, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/462930
Publication Date:
12/18/2003
Filing Date:
06/16/2003
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/83, 2/228
International Classes:
A41D13/12; (IPC1-7): A41D10/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:



1. A pair of hospital shorts for a patient comprising, in combination: a fabric panel having an upper edge, a left fly edge, a right fly edge, a left upper inseam edge, a left lower inseam edge, a right upper inseam edge, and a right lower inseam edge; a first releasable connector for releasably connecting the left fly edge to the right fly edge; a second releasable connector for releasably connecting the left upper inseam edge to the left lower inseam edge; and a third releasable connector for releasably connecting the right upper inseam edge to the right lower inseam edge; wherein the fabric panel is adapted to wrap about a lower torso of a patient and to be secured to the patient by connecting the first, second and third releasable connectors.

2. The hospital shorts of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first, second, and third releasable connectors comprises a plurality of snaps.

3. The hospital shorts of claim 1, wherein the fabric panel upper edge forms an elongate sheath, the shorts further comprising a drawstring that extends through the elongate sheath.

4. The hospital shorts of claim 1, wherein the fabric panel comprises a left panel and a right panel, which are joined together at a back seam.

5. A lower body modesty garment for a patient, the modesty garment comprising, in combination: a flat fabric panel having a left end and a right end, wherein the fabric panel can be at least partially rolled up to facilitate positioning the fabric panel underneath a supine patient; a first fastener means for releasably attaching an upper portion of the fabric panel left end to an upper portion of the fabric panel right end medially over the patient's lower torso; a second fastener means for releasably attaching a lower portion of the fabric panel right end to the fabric panel to form a right inseam; and a third fastener means for releasably attaching a lower portion of the fabric panel left end to the fabric panel to form a left inseam.

6. The modesty garment of claim 5, wherein at least one of the first, second, and third attachment means comprises a plurality of snaps.

7. The modesty garment of claim 5, wherein the fabric panel further comprises an elongate sheath, and wherein the modesty garment further comprising a drawstring that extends through the elongate sheath.

8. The modesty garment of claim 5, wherein the fabric panel comprises a left panel and a right panel that are joined together at a back seam.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/389,339, filed Jun. 14, 2002, the benefit of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. §119 and incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The invention pertains generally to clothing and, more specifically, to shorts for hospital patients.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Often when a patient is admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) or other hospital department, he or she is unconscious while in need of immediate medical attention. In this case, the hospital personnel must remove the patient's clothes so as to provide the medical staff with access to the patient's body. In order to preserve the patient's dignity and privacy, the hospital personnel usually dress the patient in a hospital gown. However, the current types of hospital gowns are inadequate for various reasons.

[0004] Current hospital gowns offer limited coverage of the lower half of the patient's body, especially when the patient is lying down. This lack of coverage is exacerbated by agitation and restlessness which may be caused by physical discomfort and/or decreased level of consciousness. However, the physician often must have ready access to the groin and lower abdominal areas of the patient for catheterization, groin checks, post-angio treatment, or other procedures requiring access to these areas of the patient's anatomy. Blankets are sometimes used to increase the privacy of a patient for the sake of the patient's dignity and privacy; but blankets are frequently kicked off by the patient or otherwise slide away and may therefore be ineffective, and may cause extra work for the medical staff. Such blankets are also relatively heavy, and may be uncomfortable for the patient.

[0005] Providing appropriate and dignified garments in the hospital setting, including, in particular, the ICU, is becoming increasingly important as hospital visitation policies and practices are becoming more lenient, tending to permit greater access to family members and other visitors. Suitable attire for the patients preserves the patient's privacy and dignity while also avoiding unnecessary discomfiture to the family and friends of patients, as they pass through the hospital.

[0006] Conventional hospital shorts are not practical for ICU wear due to the difficulty associated with donning, or “pulling on” the shorts. Such prior art shorts may not even be an option if the patient has any sort of leg injury that requires external fixation or traction. In addition, sequential compression devices, which may be wrapped around the patient's calves, must be disconnected every time shorts are being pulled up or down, thus wasting important nursing time. Also, if the patient is bleeding, incontinent of stool, or otherwise discharging fluids, pulling the shorts on and off over the patient's extremities risks soiling additional bedding and equipment.

[0007] Shorts and other garments for bedridden patients have been proposed, which alleviate some of the difficulties discussed above. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,611, to McKenzie et al., discloses several garments that are intended for a bedridden patient, reducing the need to pull the garments over a patient's extremities. In one embodiment, McKenzie et al. discloses a pair of shorts having a button-up inseam, a button-up outseam, and an elastic waistband. The shorts disclosed by McKenzie et al. require pulling the shorts over at least one of the patient's legs, because the shorts do not open either at the waist or at the crotch. Also, the button-up seam on an outseam of the shorts requires a relatively large number of buttons, and may not be easily accessed by the medical personnel. Moreover, an elastic waistband may be uncomfortable for a patient, particularly in an ICU setting, where patients may be particularly sensitive.

[0008] There remains a need, therefore, for a modesty garment such as a pair of shorts, that is comfortable for the patient and that is easily donned, or more typically, put onto, a patient in a hospital setting such as an ICU.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention solves the above-mentioned problems by providing a pair of shorts that can easily be wrapped about and fastened around a patient, even an unconscious patient. The shorts not only provide dignity and privacy to the patient and his or her family who are also traumatized by the sudden hospitalization of a loved one, but also provide ready access for medical personnel to perform necessary procedures on the patient.

[0010] The preferred embodiment of the present invention, which can be made in a range of sizes, can be made from a single piece of fabric with snaps disposed generally along the vertical midline of the front of the shorts and along the seams of the inner thighs. Thus, the ICU shorts are wrapped around the patient's waist and then snapped around the wearer's legs and along the vertical midline, giving the appearance of a regular pair of shorts. Indeed, the vertical midline portion, or fly, can be opened in a conventional manner similar to prior art shorts, without the patient or the hospital personnel removing the entire garment.

[0011] In the currently preferred embodiment, a plurality of snaps is used to close the ICU shorts instead of pressure-sensitive continuous hook-and-loop closures, buttons, or a zipper. Snaps can be fastened without putting pressure on the patient's body, which may be bruised, torn, or otherwise sensitive. The spaces between the snaps then afford access to the patient's body by hospital personnel, without having to entirely remove the shorts. If necessary, the caregiver can unsnap one or two snaps to gain access to a certain area. Being able to leave several snaps closed allows that the shorts will stay in place, unlike a blanket. Moreover, snaps are able to withstand repeated, high-temperature cleanings, which is important for repeated use in a hospital environment. Snaps are also less susceptible to being fouled by foreign matter, including biological fluids, that may be encountered.

[0012] The preferred embodiment also comprises a drawstring around the top of the shorts so that the wearer or the hospital personnel (if the wearer is unconscious) can secure the shorts in a comfortable position, if necessary—again, without putting pressure on the patient's body. The drawstring can be used to further secure the garment so that it won't slip off or twist around an agitated patient and also to enhance the regular appearance of the shorts.

[0013] The ICU shorts of the present invention are themselves easy to clean and help keep the surrounding area clean. Furthermore, although the ICU shorts of the preferred embodiment are made of cotton, any other material, such as nylon or other synthetic material, could be used to enhance the durability of the shorts. Additionally, the shorts may be provided with pockets, loops, or strategically placed openings for various purposes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same become better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a view of the currently preferred embodiment of the shorts as they are intended to be fastened around a wearer, showing the shorts unfastened about the wearer in phantom;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a view of the first side of the shorts shown in FIG. 1, wherein the second side is a mirror image of the first;

[0017] FIG. 3 is an unfolded view of the shorts shown in FIG. 1; and

[0018] FIG. 4 is a pattern for one panel of the shorts shown in FIG. 1, wherein the second panel is a mirror image of the first panel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0019] FIG. 1 shows the shorts 10 as they would appear fastened about the lower torso of a patient 90, also showing in phantom the shorts 10 as they would appear unfastened and laid out flat. The shorts 10 are first placed under the patient 90, and then the left side 10a and the right side 10b are brought together, to wrap the shorts 10 about the patient 90. A plurality of snaps 18 is provided to allow the shorts 10 to be fastened along the front midline at the fly 14 and along the inseams of inner thighs 16a, 16b. The snaps 18 may be of any reasonable size and number, but for the preferred embodiment, ¼-inch snaps have been chosen. There are five snaps 18 along the fly 14 and three snaps 18 each on the inner thighs 16a, 16b. The number of snaps 18 for a particular application should generally be the minimum number of snaps 18 required to adequately hold the shorts 10 in place on the patient 90. Also, the snaps 18 are preferably located on the shorts 10 so as to be substantially hidden when closed (i.e., one row of snap members is disposed on the inside of the shorts portion that will overlap the other portion, and the corresponding row of snap members is disposed on the outside of the overlapped portion of the shorts 10). However, in the figures, the snaps 18 are typically shown for clarity on the outside of the shorts 10.

[0020] It will also be appreciated that locating the snaps 18 on the midline or fly 14 of the shorts provides two distinct advantages. First, the midline location minimizes the number of snaps required to extend to the top of the shorts 10, simplifying securement of the shorts 10. Second, the midline location is also typically more conveniently accessible to the attending medical personnel and accessible from either side of the patient.

[0021] Although other securement mechanisms, such as buttons, hook-and-pile materials, zippers, and the like may alternatively be used to secure the shorts 10 along the fly 14 and/or the inseams 16a, 16b, snaps are preferred for the disclosed embodiment because they are easy to secure and release, and individual snaps can be selectively engaged or disengaged to provide the desired access to the patient, while leaving the remaining snaps secured. Also, snaps are intermittently disposed along the seam, permitting access between snaps, for example to accommodate catheters and the like. Also, snaps are less prone to retaining matter, such as biological fluids, than hook-and-pile type fasteners.

[0022] Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, wherein FIG. 2 shows the shorts 10 folded along a back seam 11 and FIG. 3 shows the shorts 10 in plan view, the shorts 10 may be made from two panels 12a, 12b that are generally identical, but mirror images of each other. It will be apparent that the shorts may alternatively be made from single piece of fabric.

[0023] The upper end of each panel 12a, 12b includes an integral sheath 26 that cooperatively provides a channel for an optional drawstring 20. As seen most clearly in FIG. 1, the drawstring 20 encircles the top edge of the shorts 10 to further secure the shorts about the waist of the patient. Although it is contemplated that a length of elastic could alternatively be used to secure the shorts 10 about the patient's waist, with a suitably secure snap to close the waistband, it will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that an elastic band at the top of the shorts 10 may become uncomfortable to a patient over time, and provide a source for rubbing and irritation. The drawstring 20 is therefore a preferred embodiment. The drawstring 20 properly affixed about a patient will prevent the shorts 10 from sliding downwardly over the user's waist more reliably than an elastic band, while also not continuously rubbing against the patient during use.

[0024] FIG. 2 shows only the first panel 12a of the two mirrored panels that comprise the shorts 10. The two panels 12a, 12b may be formed from a unitary piece of fabric, or as separate panels that are stitched or otherwise joined together along the back seam 11. The sheath 26 for the drawstring 20 may be added after the two panels are assembled, but preferably will be simply a folded-over part of the panels 12a, 12b. On the first panel 12a, the snaps 18 along the fly 14 are located on the inside of the panel 12a, and the corresponding snaps on the second panel 12b (FIG. 3) are located on the outside of the panel 12b. It can be seen that the edges are generally not straight, but rather are curved to wrap about the patient's anatomy, and to comfortably accommodate different sizes and shapes.

[0025] It will be appreciated now that the shorts 10 may be easily put on even an unconscious patient. For example, the single, generally flat piece of fabric, with the fasteners 18 unsnapped, may be rolled partially to form a rough cylinder out of one panel 12a of the ICU shorts 10. The patient 90 may then be rolled or turned onto one side, and the rolled portion of the ICU shorts 10 placed under the patient, and the remainder of the shorts 10 flat on the bed. The patient may then be turned to the other side, in the opposite direction, permitting the rolled portion of the shorts 10 to be unrolled. As seen most clearly from FIG. 1, the left and right sides of the shorts 10a, 10b are then wrapped over the top of the patient 90 and the fasteners 18 snapped into place to close the fly 14 and inseams 16a, 16b. The drawstring 20 may also be secured.

[0026] It will also be appreciated that if medical personnel require access to the patient's lower abdomen, then only the upper fly fasteners 18 might be unsnapped, leaving the remaining snaps in place. Alternatively, if the medical personnel require access to the groin area, only the lower fasteners 18 might be unsnapped. The ability to partially unfasten the shorts 10 reduces the workload on the medical personnel while further protecting the patient's privacy. The drawstring 20 maintains the shorts 10 generally in the desired location, without producing the constant rubbing and irritation associated with an elastic band.

[0027] It will also be appreciated that by providing fasteners that run generally along the center of the shorts 10, the medical personnel will be able to easily fasten and unfasten the snaps 18 from either side of the patient, and without having to rock or roll the patient to one side. Also, when the shorts 10 are not snapped closed, the lateral edges of the shorts are less likely to become positioned under the patient.

[0028] FIG. 4 shows a pattern 30 for cutting a piece of fabric to produce a panel 12b of the shorts 10 described above. The upper edge 32 includes sufficient fabric to be folded over and sewn to produce the drawstring sheath 26 described above. Similarly, the fly edge 34, and the upper and lower thigh edges 36a, 36b are provide with material to be folded over to provide a clean seam outboard of the snaps 18. The back seam portion 31 is also shown.

[0029] In the preferred embodiment, the shorts 10, including the drawstring 20, are made from cotton, which is comfortable for the patient, reasonably durable, and launderable. The cotton may also be pretreated with an antibacterial or anti-fungal treatment, or the like. It will be appreciated, however, that other materials may alternatively be used, without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0030] Although the preferred embodiment has been described with reference to a pair of shorts, it will be appreciated by a person of skill in the art that the length of the leg portions of the shorts may extend down a portion, or the entire length, of the patient's leg.

[0031] While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.