Pulse oximetry finger sleeve
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This invention is new in the medical field. Patient care people use a hand-held device with a plastic finger clip which comes in contact with the patient's finger to obtain an oxygen concentration and pulse rate during breathing treatments or for patients on oxygen for evaluation. It is not possible to sufficiently clean the finger clip between patients. I have never seen anything resembling this Pulse Oximetry Finger Sleeve anywhere even on patients who are in isolation for specific purposes of preventing spread of infection. The Pulse Oximeter Finger Sleeve is of soft plastic and shaped like one finger of a glove and would be placed on the patient's finger before placing the pulse oximeter finger clip, which is not disposable, on the patient's finger in order to prevent the spread of infection from patient to patient.

Kimbell, Catherine Ann Andress (Amarillo, TX, US)
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1. What I claim as my invention is the Pulse Oximetry Finger Sleeve which is much like a one finger glove made of thin, opaque, disposable plastic, which will fit over any one finger of the patient. This will enable all the Respiratory Therapists and Nurses using a pulse oximeter to check the patient's oxygen saturation and heart rate, which is done hundreds of thousands of times a day in every hospital and nursing home in America, to continue using the hand-held pulse oximeters and finger clips over and over again on all patients all over the hospital (as is currently being done) without the problem of transmission of disease from patient to patient. As a Certified Respiratory Therapist since 1974, I have never seen or heard of any form of prevention for infection control that specifically addresses this area of potentially serious cross contamination or spread of infection from patient to patient. This is an area of neglect and has been overlooked as there are no infection control measures in place which addresses this problem.







Please see the table under item number (11)


I, Catherine A. Kimbell, (the sole inventor), have been a Certified Respiratory Therapist for thirty years and am very aware of cross-contamination issues in a hospital setting as well as throughout the medical field. I am knowledgeable about infection control measures regarding the practitioner's or therapist's frequent need for wearing gloves, masks, gowns and constant need for our hand washing between patients to prevent spread of infection. I also became aware last year in a hospital educational in-service that the SARS virus stays alive on surfaces for 24 hours, and I feel certain other viruses also survive on surfaces this long or longer. As a Respiratory Therapist, I know that all of us are assigned a hand-held pulse oximeter to carry with us throughout our entire shift. We use these pulse oxes (for short) at least twice on every single patient that we give a breathing treatment to in order to monitor their oxygen saturation and heart rate at the beginning of the treatment and during the treatment. This information tells us whether the patient needs more or less of his current supplemental oxygen amounts and it also lets us know if the patient's heart rate increases significantly, which can be very dangerous and is reason for us to promptly discontinue the treatment. Also, because the Respiratory Therapy heaviest demand is seasonal, greatly increasing when flu season begins due to flu, pneumonia, and other respiratory ailments, most hospitals are not fully staffed since there is significantly less business in the late spring and summer months. Therefore, when the respiratory season begins, we therapists run non-stop from patient to patient all over the hospital hardly stopping to eat . . . this is not an exaggeration. This fact is pertinent because all of us make time to don masks, gloves, and gowns when necessary, and we all thoroughly wash our hands with anti-bacterial soap or lotion between patients but none of us has the time to stop and sanitize our equipment between patients. The use of disposable breathing treatment and oxygen set-ups greatly reduces cross-contamination problems. However, it is not possible nor feasible to ask each patient to wash his or her hands before we use our mobile pulse ox on them. These pulse oxes have a plastic and rubber finger clip which houses the probe that makes it possible to monitor the oxygen saturation and heart rate. This finger clip is used over and over and over, at least twice on each patient getting breathing treatments (which are frequently four times a day or every four hours for every patient) plus they are also used on every patient that is on oxygen at least twice a day not to mention the many times we are asked to check a patient's oxygen saturation at nursing staff request. Many times I have personally witnessed a patient pulling a filthy hand out from under the covers and I've even seen feces caked under a patient's fingernails. I always take time to use an alcohol swipe to try to clean the finger clip after such obvious filth, but if there are viruses that can live on surfaces for 24 hours or longer, think of the cross-contamination that we are spreading from patient to patient hundred's of times each day. In addition, with medical costs already spiraling out of control, no one can afford to get sicker while being hospitalized if it can be prevented, and this problem will be prevented with my invention. Furthermore, I have never seen or heard of this specific area of infection control addressed, rather it has long been overlooked and neglected.


My invention addresses the problem of cross-contamination between patients who have the need to have their oxygen saturation and heart rate checked with a hand-held pulse oximeter and who share the very same pulse ox finger clip with hundreds of patients every single day and night. As far as I know there is not now, nor has there ever been, an infection control procedure to address this specific problem. Amazingly, this very obvious area of cross-contamination has simply somehow been overlooked. My invention is a disposable Pulse Oximetry Finger Sleeve which would be used on each patient then discarded with the specific object being sanitization and disease prevention.


The invention is called a Pulse Oximetry Finger Sleeve and is made up of a disposable, thin, opaque plastic material made in the shape of a finger (adult, children, and newborn sizes), which fits over the patients finger during monitoring the pulse and oxygen saturation with a hand held pulse oximeter and is used for the purpose of prevention of disease due to the fact that the finger clip is a permanent part of the pulse oximeter and is used frequently and never cleaned between patients.


The Pulse Oximeter Finger Sleeve will be made of an opaque thin plastic very much like a softer version of the thermometer probe covers currently in use, and thin enough not to interfere with the infra-red readings. There is a one size fits all for adults, one for children, and possibly one for the neonatal or newborn patients. It will be shaped like and look like one finger of a glove. It can be produced by a process of heat applied to paper thin plastic or paper material which is thin enough to allow the infra-red light on the pulse oximetry probe to penetrate yet thick enough to prevent transfer of germs. It will be produced in appropriate sizes for adults (approximately four inches long by 1½ inches wide), and smaller versions for adolescents, young children and newborns. It will be made of a disposable material intended to either be carried in boxes by each therapist and/or placed on each wing of each floor of the institution, or placed in each patient's room like rubber gloves are now done for easy availability or carried in numerous other ways. It looks like one finger of a glove which will be placed on the patient's finger and left there until the practitioner is finished with the patient and then it can be thrown away. In the special care units like Intensive Care Units, Cardiac Care Units, Medical Intensive Care Units, Neonatal Units and the Emergency Room one Pulse Oximetry Finger Sleeve could possibly be changed only daily depending on the patient and his infection level. The hands have long been studied and verified as the most frequent point of contact for cross-contamination to occur.