Title:
DISPENSER FOR DISINFECTANT WIPES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispenser includes a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container, and a manual input on the container for advancing one 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 placed in a roll. The fastener preferably snaps or clips to the stethoscope, belt, or other convenient location.



Inventors:
Agarwal, Amal K. (Orland Park, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/423483
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
06/12/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H3/00
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 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; a manual input on the container for advancing one of the disinfectant wipes.

2. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the manual input comprises a knob for advancing disinfectant wipes from a roll of disinfectant wipes.

3. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the fastener comprises a strap to form a loop.

4. The dispenser of claim 3 wherein the fastener further comprises a plurality of snaps.

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

6. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein the fastener comprises a snap.

7. A dispenser, comprising: a dispenser housing having an open position and a closed position; a cartridge disposed within the dispenser housing, the cartridge accessible when the dispenser housing is in the open position and the cartridge protected by the dispenser housing when the dispenser housing is in the closed position; a plurality of disinfectant wipes positioned within the cartridge; the cartridge having an opening for dispensement of the disinfectant wipes.

8. The dispenser of claim 7 further comprising a strap operatively connected to the dispenser housing and at least one fastener operatively connected to the strap for forming a loop.

9. The dispenser of claim 8 further comprising a manual feed mechanism associated with the cartridge to thereby advance one of the disinfectant wipes.

10. A dispenser, comprising: a dispenser housing; a cover operatively connected to the dispenser housing to thereby provide an open position and a closed position; a roll of pre-moisturized disinfectant wipes disposed within the dispenser housing such that the disinfectant wipes being accessible in the open position for dispensement and the disinfectant wipes being protected within the dispenser housing when the dispenser housing is in the closed position; a manual feed control adapted for advancing one of the disinfectant wipes; and a fastener operatively connected to the dispenser housing for securing the dispenser.

11. The dispenser of claim 10 wherein the fastener comprises a strap.

12. The dispenser of claim 10 further comprising a cartridge, the roll of pre-moisturized disinfectant wipes disposed within the cartridge, the cartridge having an opening for dispensing the disinfectant wipes upon advancement of the roll using the manual feed control.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/091,109 filed Mar. 28, 2005, entitled DISPENSER FOR DISINFECTANT WIPES which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to disinfection, particular, but not necessarily as it applies 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 as 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.

Another object, feature, or advantage is to provide a disinfectant wipe dispenser which can be attached a stethoscope or belt or otherwise in a convenient manner.

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.

Yet another object, feature, or advantage of the present invention is to provide an article of manufacture which is useful and of value to health care personnel and can be used as a promotional item by pharmaceutical companies or others.

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 17 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 and/or any procedure causing trauma/penetration of patients skin requiring appropriate sterilization, 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. According to another aspect of the present invention, a dispenser for dispensing disinfectant wipes is provided. The dispenser includes a container for storing the disinfectant wipes, a fastener operatively connected to the container and adapted to removably connect the container (such as to a stethoscope or belt), and a manual input on the container for advancing one of the disinfectant wipes. The manual input may include a knob for advancing disinfectant wipes from a roll of disinfectant wipes. The fastener may include a strap to form a loop and may also use one or more snaps to do so.

According to yet another embodiment, a dispenser is provided. The dispenser includes a dispenser housing having an open position and a closed position, a cartridge disposed within the dispenser housing, the cartridge accessible when the dispenser housing is in the open position and the cartridge protected by the dispenser housing when the dispenser housing is in the closed position, a plurality of disinfectant wipes positioned within the cartridge, the cartridge having an opening for dispensement of the disinfectant wipes.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a dispenser includes a dispenser housing, a cover operatively connected to the dispenser housing to thereby provide an open position and a closed position. There is a roll of pre-moisturized disinfectant wipes disposed within the dispenser housing such that the disinfectant wipes are accessible in the open position for dispensement and the disinfectant wipes are protected within the dispenser housing when the dispenser housing is in the closed position. There is a manual feed control adapted for advancing one of the disinfectant wipes. A fastener is operatively connected to the dispenser housing for securing the dispenser.

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.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention attached to a stethoscope.

FIG. 11 is another perspective view of the dispenser of FIG. 10 showing the dispenser attached to a stethoscope.

FIG. 12A illustrates a dispenser in an open position.

FIG. 12B illustrates a dispenser in an open position with a cartridge in place.

FIG. 12C illustrates a dispenser in a closed position.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view illustrating a package of wipes or swabs according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view illustrating a cartridge for wipes according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is an exploded view of a cartridge according to one embodiment of 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.

The present invention contemplates numerous embodiments. Another embodiment is shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. In FIG. 10 a dispenser 110 is shown which is operatively connected to a tube 14 of a stethoscope. The dispenser 110 includes a strap 122 which loops over the stethoscope tube 14 (alternatively, it could loop over a belt) and fastens to itself. This maintains the dispenser 110 in a position where it is convenient to access. The strap 122 when looped has a front portion 132 and a rear portion 134 with an edge having a front portion 128 and a rear portion 128. The dispenser 110 has a housing 112 in which wipes or swabs are stored. A cartridge 116 is positioned within in the housing 112. The cartridge has an opening 130 for dispensing the wipes. The housing 112 shown is a two-piece housing with a cover 114 hinged with a living hinge 118 or otherwise connected to the rest of the housing 112. A tab 124 is provided to allow the dispenser to be easily opened. A knob 120 is provided for manually advancing wipes from the dispenser 110. The present invention contemplates that the dispenser 110 may be used as a promotional item. Where used as such, the present invention contemplates that the dispenser 110 may be of a distinctive color, and include a logo or symbol, or other text identifying a product, brand, company or other entity.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view showing the dispenser 110 attached to the stethoscope tube 114. Snap fasteners 136 and 138 are used to connect the first side of the mount to the second side 134 of the mount to thereby connect the dispenser 110 to the stethoscope. Instead of connecting to a stethoscope, the dispenser could be connected to a belt. The present invention also contemplates that instead of snap fasteners, other types of fasteners or other means to connect or secure the dispenser may be used. For example, hook and look type fasteners could be used. In addition, the present invention contemplates that instead of looping over a stethoscope or belt, other types of connections may be used.

FIG. 12A illustrates the dispenser 110 in an open and empty position when attached to a stethoscope. FIG. 12B illustrates the dispenser 110 in an open position with a cartridge 116 of swabs or wipes in place. A cover 114 is opened so that a swab or wipe may be dispensed. FIG. 12C shows the dispenser in a closed position. When in the closed position, swabs or wipes within the dispenser are protected to thereby assist in maintaining moisture and freshness.

The swabs or wipes are refillable so that the dispenser may be reused. FIG. 13 illustrates one manner in which wipes can be packaged. The package 170 has a body 176 with a first end 172 and an opposite second end 174. The first end 172 and or the second end 174 may be torn open in order to open the package. Of course, the present invention contemplates that the wipes may be packaged in numerous other ways.

FIG. 14 provides a perspective view of a cartridge of the present invention. In FIG. 14, the cartridge 116 has a cartridge housing within an opening 130 for dispensing disinfectant swabs or wipes. The cartridge has a first end 164 and an opposite second end 166. A disinfectant wipe 162 is shown extending from the opening 130.

FIG. 15 is an exploded view of a cartridge according to one embodiment of the present invention. The cartridge 116 shown has a roll 180 of pre-moistened alcohol swabs, such as the swab 162. The roll 180 of swabs is placed on a center spool 182 to assist in feeding or retracting swabs if needed. The spool includes opposite retainer portions to keep the roll 180 of swabs in place. The pre-moisturized alcohol swabs 180 are placed within a cartridge housing having an opening 130 for dispensement.

Therefore a stethoscope dispenser for disinfectant wipes and method of using it has 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 or belt or other convenient and accessible location. The present invention contemplates variations in the dispensement mechanism, including numerous mechanical and electrical systems. These include manual activation, such as advancing the feed through use of a knob or automatic advancement. These and other variations are all within the spirit and scope of the invention.