Title:
Stethoscope dispenser for disinfectant wipes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stethoscope dispenser includes a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to a tube of a stethoscope, and a manual input on the container for initiating dispensement of the disinfectant wipes. The container may provide an open position for dispensing the disinfectant wipes and a closed position for preserving fluid on the disinfectant wipes. The disinfectant wipes are preferably tearable. A motor may be disposed within the container and operatively connected to the manual input such that operation of the manual input advances at least one of the disinfectant wipes. Alternatively, a purely mechanical design can be used. The fastener preferably snaps or clips to the stethoscope.



Inventors:
Agarwal, Amal K. (Orland Park, IL, US)
Sahai, Anil K. (Webster City, IA, US)
Application Number:
11/091109
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K10/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCKEE, VOORHEES & SEASE, P.L.C. (DES MOINES, IA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stethoscope dispenser for dispensing disinfectant wipes, comprising: a container for storing the disinfectant wipes; a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to a tube of a stethoscope; a manual input on the container for initiating dispensement of the disinfectant wipes.

2. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 1 wherein the disinfectant wipes are tearable.

3. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 1 wherein the container provides an open position for dispensing the disinfectant wipes and a closed position for preserving fluid on the wipes.

4. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 1 further comprising a motor disposed within the container and operatively connected to the manual input such that operation of the manual input advances at least one of the disinfectant wipes.

5. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 1 wherein the manual input mechanically advances at least one of the disinfectant wipes.

6. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 1 wherein the fastener snaps to the tube of the stethoscope.

7. A stethoscope dispenser, comprising: a plurality of disinfectant wipes; a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, the disinfectant wipes disposed within the container; and a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to stethoscope.

8. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein each of the disinfectant wipes is odorless.

9. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein each of the disinfectant wipes is substantially square in shape.

10. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein each of the disinfectant wipes is impregnated with a pre-applied disinfectant.

11. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 further comprising a manual input on the container for initiating dispensement of at least one of the disinfectant wipes.

12. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein the fastener snaps to the stethoscope.

13. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein the fastener is operatively connected to a tube of the stethoscope.

14. The stethoscope dispenser of claim 7 wherein the plurality of disinfectant wipes includes at least 40 disinfectant wipes.

15. A method of disinfecting, comprising: accessing a stethoscope dispenser operatively connected to a stethoscope, the stethoscope dispenser comprising (a) a plurality of disinfectant wipes, (b) a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, the disinfectant wipes disposed within the container, and (c) a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to stethoscope; dispensing at least one disinfectant wipe from the stethoscope dispenser; disinfecting a surface with the at least one disinfectant wipe dispensed from the stethoscope dispenser.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein the step of disinfecting a surface is disinfecting a skin surface of a patient prior to needle injection.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein the step of disinfecting a surface is disinfecting a health care provider's hands.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein the surface is a surface of a bell of the stethoscope.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein the surface is a surface of a diaphragm of the stethoscope.

20. The method of claim 15 wherein the surface is a surface of an earpiece of the stethoscope.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to disinfection and to stethoscopes. In health care, proper disinfection and sterilization is of great importance. Disinfection is, of course, the process of killing pathogens. Disinfection is often performed using alcohol swabs, but such use of alcohol swabs is not always convenient. While this does not normally prevent disinfection or sterilization from taking place, it can make disinfection or sterilization inconvenient.

During the course of examination with a patient, medical instruments such a stethoscopes come in contact with the patient. Disinfection of stethoscopes after each use, is not, however, an established practice. Yet, failing to do so may result in failure to kill pathogens. What is needed is a convenient, easy, and effective manner of disinfecting stethoscopes as well as other surfaces.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is a primary object, feature, or advantage of the present invention to improve over the state of the art.

It is a further object, feature, or advantage of the present invention to provide a convenient means for health care personnel to disinfect a surface.

Another object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to encourage and promote disinfecting and sterilizing by health care personnel.

Yet another object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to provide a disinfectant wipe dispenser for use with a stethoscope.

A further object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to provide a disinfectant wipe dispenser for use with a stethoscope that does not interfere with auscultation and examination of a patient.

A still further object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to provide a disinfectant wipe dispenser that is disposable and environmentally safe.

Another object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to provide a disinfectant wipe dispenser that allows for easy dispensement of disinfectant wipes at the discretion of health care personnel.

One or more of these and/or other objects, features, or advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the specification and claims that follow.

According to one aspect of the invention, a stethoscope dispenser for dispensing disinfectant wipes is provided. The stethoscope dispenser includes a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to a tube of a stethoscope, and a manual input on the container for initiating dispensement of the disinfectant wipes. The container may provide an open position for dispensing the disinfectant wipes and a closed position for preserving fluid on the disinfectant wipes. The disinfectant wipes are preferably tearable. A motor may be disposed within the container and operatively connected to the manual input such that operation of the manual input advances at least one of the disinfectant wipes. Alternatively, a purely mechanical design can be used. The fastener snaps or clips to the stethoscope.

According to another aspect of the invention a stethoscope dispenser is provided. The stethoscope dispenser includes a plurality of disinfectant wipes, a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, the disinfectant wipes disposed within the container, and a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to stethoscope. It is preferred that the disinfectant wipes are odorless and are substantially square in shape. It is further preferred that each of the disinfectant wipes is impregnated with a pre-applied disinfectant. It is further preferred that the container holds at least 40 wipes. The manual input on the container initiates dispensement of at least one of the disinfectant wipes. The fastener snaps or clips to the stethoscope. The fastener preferably connects to a tube of the stethoscope.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, a method of disinfecting is provided. The method includes accessing a stethoscope dispenser operatively connected to a stethoscope, the stethoscope dispenser having a plurality of disinfectant wipes, a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, the disinfectant wipes disposed within the container, and a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container to stethoscope. The method includes dispensing at least one disinfectant wipe from the stethoscope dispenser and disinfecting a surface with the at least one disinfectant wipe dispensed from the stethoscope dispenser. The surface being disinfected can be a skin surface of a patient prior to needle injection, a health care provider's hands, a surface of a bell of the stethoscope, a surface of a diaphragm of the stethoscope, a surface of an earpiece of the stethoscope or some other surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial representation of a disinfectant wipe dispenser operatively connected to a stethoscope according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a dispenser.

FIG. 3 is a view of one embodiment of a dispenser showing a fastener to connect the dispenser to a stethoscope.

FIG. 4 is a top view of one embodiment of a dispenser showing the dispenser in an open position to dispense a disinfectant wipe.

FIG. 5 is a top view of one embodiment of a dispenser showing the dispenser in a closed position to protect disinfectant wipes and preserve moisture associated with the wipes.

FIG. 6 is a view of a plurality of disinfectant wipes.

FIG. 7 is a schematic of one embodiment of an electrical system for dispensing wipes according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a dispenser according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a dispenser according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention includes various embodiments of stethoscope dispenser for dispensing disinfectant wipes and related methods. Although preferred embodiments are described herein, the present invention is by no means limited to these specific embodiments.

FIG. 1 is a pictorial representation of a disinfectant wipe dispenser operatively connected to a stethoscope according to one embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 1, the stethoscope 10 is of conventional construction and includes a chest piece 12 with both a bell and a diaphragm. A tube 14 connects the chestpiece 12 to an earpiece. The stethoscope dispenser 20 is shown operatively connected to the tube 14 of the stethoscope 10.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the stethoscope dispenser. The stethoscope dispenser 20 includes a container 26 for storing disinfectant wipes 40. The container 26 is preferably about the size and shape of one or two AA sized batteries although the size and shape can vary. The relatively small shape of the container 26 prevents the stethoscope dispenser 20 from interfering with auscultation and examination of a patient. The dispenser 20 is preferably made of an environmentally safe composition and is disposable. The container 26 encloses a cavity for storing the disinfectant wipes 40. The container 26 preserves fluid on the wipes when the container 26 is closed. The container 26 has a side 22 and a top 44. There is an opening 42 in the top 44 for dispensing disinfectant wipes 40. There is also, preferably, a manual input 24, such as a button on the container dispenser 20. The manual input 24 is used to initiate dispensement of a wipe. The manual input can be used in conjunction with a mechanical system, such as to activated a spring loaded mechanism for dispensing a wipe 40, an electrical system, such as to energize a motor for feeding a wipe 40 from the dispenser 20, or a manual system, such as to simply open the dispenser 20 so that a wipe 40 can be manually pulled from the dispenser 20.

FIG. 3 is a view of one embodiment of a dispenser 20 showing a fastener 30 to connect the dispenser 20 to a stethoscope. The fastener 30 is attached to a back side 28 of the dispenser 20 for operatively connecting the dispenser to a tube of stethoscope. The fastener 30 shown is used to snap-on or clip the dispenser 20 to the stethoscope. The fastener 30 includes to longitudinal members 32, 34, each of which is operatively connected to the back side 28 of the dispenser 20 by ring members 36 and 38. In operation, the tube of stethoscope is pushed between the longitudinal members which separate to accept the tube. Then the longitudinal members resiliently snap back together in order to retain the dispenser 20 snugly to the stethoscope. The present invention contemplates that other types of fasteners may be used including various types of clip fasteners, snap fit fasteners, press fit fasteners, tie-on fasteners, and other types of fasteners as may be known in the art and appropriate to a particular design.

FIG. 4 is a top view of one embodiment of a dispenser 20 showing the dispenser 20 in an open position to dispense a disinfectant wipe. An opening 54 is shown and a door or lid 50 is shown in an open position to allow access to the inner cavity of the dispenser 20. A serrated member 52 is also shown to assist in tearing off a cavity. The door or lid 50 can be opened manually, through electronic control such as through an actuator, or through a mechanical system, such as spring-loaded system. FIG. 5 is a top view of one embodiment of a dispenser showing the dispenser in a closed position to protect disinfectant wipes and preserve moisture associated with the wipes.

FIG. 6 is a view of a roll 60 of disinfectant wipes. In this embodiment, each of the individual wipes 62 are substantially square in shape and perforation 64 separates each of the wipes to assist in making the wipes easily tearable. The present invention provides for other embodiments of wipes, depending upon the particular structure and design of the dispenser. Preferably the wipes have a pre-applied disinfectant. For example, the wipes can be impregnated with a sterilizing solution such as may be appropriate to safely sterilize the bell, diaphragm and/or earpiece of the stethoscope as well as to wipe a physician's hands and sterilize a patent's skin prior to needle injection or otherwise used at the discretion of a health care provider. The wipe may also be odorless for a patient's and user's comfort. One example of sterilizing solution that can be used is a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol solution, although the present invention contemplates that any number of types of solution may be used.

FIG. 7 is a schematic of one embodiment of an electrical system for dispensing wipes according to the present invention. In FIG. 7, a circuit 70 is shown with a battery 72 for providing electrical energy. Preferably the battery 72 is small in size as it is preferred that the dispenser is small in size. The battery 72 is electrically connected to a switch 74. The switch 74 is used to turn on a motor 76 and an actuator 78. The motor 76 is preferably used to advance wipes. The actuator 78 is preferably used to open the dispenser. The present invention contemplates numerous variations in the electrical system, the mechanism used to advance wipes, and the mechanism used to open the dispenser.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a dispenser according to the present invention. In FIG. 8, a dispenser 80 is shown with a container 82 having a manual input 86 such as a switch for opening the opening 90 in the container 82. A fastener 84 is shown for connecting the dispenser 80 to a stethoscope. A disinfectant wipe 88 is shown which can be removed from the dispenser 88.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a dispenser according to the present invention. In FIG. 9, a dispenser 100 has a container 102 with a fastener 104. There is an opening 108 within in the top 106 of the container. A manually activated lid 110 is operatively connected to the container 102 for opening and closing the container.

The present invention also provides for a method of disinfecting. In operation, the dispenser provides a health care provider a convenient method of disinfecting a surface. Placing the dispenser on a stethoscope makes the dispenser easily accessible to health care personnel to encourage and promote proper and frequent disinfecting of various surfaces. Whenever needed, at the discretion of health care personnel, a disinfectant wipe is dispensed. The wipe can be used to sterilize the bell, diaphragm, and/or ear piece of the stethoscope. The wipe may also be used to wipe the hands of a health care provider or sterilize a patient's skin prior to needle injection. Of course, the wipe can be used to disinfect or sterilize other surfaces at the discretion of the health care provider.

Therefore a stethoscope dispenser for disinfectant wipes and method of using it ahs been disclosed. The present invention contemplates numerous variations. For example, the present invention contemplates variations in the size, shape, quantity, and composition of disinfectant wipes as well as whether they are tearable or not. The present invention contemplates variations in the type of fastener used to connect the container to a stethoscope. The present invention contemplates variations in the dispensement mechanism, including numerous mechanical and electrical systems. These and other variations are all within the spirit and scope of the invention.