Title:
Sharps Container with Integrated Blade Disarming Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sharps container having an integrated scalpel blade disarming device (200) includes an aperture (209) formed in the side wall of the container (200). A first pushing tab (217) and second pushing tab (219) are used for providing a force to the scalpel blade (101). A notch (221) is formed between the first pushing tab (217) and second pushing tab (219) for providing a channel for the scalpel handle (103). A removal tab (223) is used for contacting a rear portion (215) of the scalpel blade (101). The invention allows the scalpel blade (101) to be easily disengaged from the scalpel handle (103) by applying both a side force and rearward force to the scalpel handle (103) where the scalpel blade (101) is engaged with the first pushing tab (217), second pushing tab (219) and removal tab (223).



Inventors:
Zyzelewski, Mark E. (Kalamazoo, MI, US)
Bowen, Dan J. (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/456700
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
07/11/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D83/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070227916Steel suture packageOctober, 2007Malinowski et al.
20050040051Method and kit for teaching home cooking, food and wine pairing, and entertainingFebruary, 2005Martin
20090134048MERCHANDISE AND ASSOCIATED MANUFACTURING METHODMay, 2009Zeh et al.
20070090006Spindle sleeveApril, 2007Kelsch
20080156811Tableware articleJuly, 2008Lu et al.
20090130345CONSTRUCTION OF AN ARTIFICIAL AQUATIC LIFE FORM AND ANCHORMay, 2009Anderson et al.
20080011803PILL SPLITTER WITH PROTECTED BLADE AND MODIFIED HINGEJanuary, 2008Petrie et al.
20040149607Multifunctional receptacle with load-leveling capabilitiesAugust, 2004Gorman
20030183550Disaster pack and method for making sameOctober, 2003Samuel Jr.
20080274252Pullulan film containing sweetenerNovember, 2008Hoffman et al.
20090045079Optical casing with skylight arrangementFebruary, 2009Au



Primary Examiner:
PERREAULT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jonathan P. O'Brien/Miller (Kalamazoo, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sharps container with an integrated scalpel blade disarming device comprising: an aperture formed in the side wall of the container; a first pushing tab for providing a force to a first portion of the scalpel blade; a second pushing tab for providing a force to a second portion of scalpel blade; a notch formed between the first pushing tab and second pushing tab for providing a channel for the scalpel shaft; a removal tab for contacting a rear portion of the scalpel blade; and wherein the scalpel blade is disengaged from the scalpel shaft by applying both a side force and rearward force to the scalpel handle when the scalpel blade is engaged with the first pushing tab, second pushing tab and removal tab.

2. A sharps container as in claim 1, wherein the notch is substantially square in shape.

3. A sharps container as in claim 1, wherein the side force acts to flex the scalpel blade in a direction opposite that of the first pushing tab and second pushing tab for disengaging it from the scalpel shaft.

4. A sharps container as in claim 1, comprising a blade reservoir for containing the spent blade within a fixed enclosure.

5. A sharps container as in claim 1, further comprising a guard for preventing the scalpel blade from moving vertically outside the notch.

6. A sharps container as in claim 1, wherein the removal tab is located adjacent to the aperture.

7. A multi-function sharps container used for removing a scalpel blade and storing the scalpel blade in a containment area comprising: at least one aperture for receiving a scalpel blade; a first pushing tab for providing a force to an upper portion of the scalpel blade; a second pushing tab for providing a force to a lower portion of the scalpel blade; a notch located between the first pushing tab and second pushing tab for receiving a portion of the scalpel shaft; a removal tab located adjacent to the at least one aperture for contacting a rear portion of the scalpel blade; a scalpel blade containment area; and wherein a force is applied to the scalpel shaft for enabling the first pushing tab and second pushing tab to displace the scalpel blade such that it can be removed into the scalpel blade containment area.

8. A multi-function sharps container as in claim 7, wherein the scalpel blade includes a fastening aperture with fastening channel for engaging with the scalpel shaft.

9. A multi-function sharps container as in claim 7, wherein the container is formed into two half sections with the first pushing tab, second pushing tab and removal tab all located in one of the two half sections.

10. A multi-function sharps container as in claim 9, wherein the two half sections are hinged for opening the scalpel blade containment area.

11. A multi-function sharps container as in claim 7, further comprising a guard enclosing the notch for preventing the scalpel blade from moving vertically outside of the notch.

12. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container comprising the steps of: inserting the scalpel blade and blade shaft in the side wall of the container; providing a force from a first pushing tab to a first portion of the scalpel blade; providing a force from a second pushing tab to a second portion of the scalpel blade; utilizing a notch formed between the first pushing tab and second pushing tab for providing a channel for guiding the scalpel shaft; utilizing a rear portion of the scalpel blade for engaging with a removing tab; and disengaging the scalpel blade from the scalpel shaft by applying both a side force and rearward force to the scalpel handle.

13. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container as in claim 12, further comprising the step of: removing the scalpel shaft from the sharps container without the scalpel blade.

14. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container as in claim 12, further comprising the step of: allowing the scalpel blade to remain inside the sharps container.

15. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container further comprising the step of: utilizing a guard to prevent the scalpel blade from moving vertically from within the notch.

16. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container as in claim 15, further comprising the step of: positioning the first pushing tab, second pushing tab, a predetermined distance from the removing tab.

17. A method for removing a scalpel blade using a sharps container as in claim 15, wherein the removing tab is positioned integral with the aperture.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application entitled “Sharps Container with Integrated Blade Disarming Device” filed on Aug. 22, 2005, as Ser. No. 60/710,309.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates in general to a device to safely disengage and dispose of a medical scalpel blade and, more particularly, to a sharps container that includes an integrated disarming device for removing the scalpel blade from the scalpel handle.

BACKGROUND

Sharps containers are typically used in the medical environment to allow doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel to safely dispose of sharp objects within a sealed container. These objects might typically include needles and/or scalpel blades. There are numerous types of medical instruments having sharp surfaces that are discarded after use. One type of sharps container that is used to disconnect and dispose of scalpel blades is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,068 to Gharibian, which is herein incorporated by reference. The container disclosed in this prior art teaches a receptacle used to safely remove a blade from a surgical scalpel while providing a container to dispose of the used blade. An aperture is used in the side of the container in connection with a plurality of parallel guide walls. Shoulders project from the guide walls along with an angled blade deflector that works to push the aperture against the deflectors. The scalpel blade is deformed allowing it to be disengaged from the scalpel handle. Once disengaged, the blade is removed from the handle where it is safely stored within the container.

One problem associated with this type of container is that is difficult to manufacture due to the angles required from the components used to release the scalpel blade. The container as described in the '068 patent requires the blade to be inserted between both shoulders where it engages with a blade deflector. If the scalpel blade is not correctly inserted between the shoulders or if the blade does not engage the blade deflector at the proper angle, it is difficult, if not impossible, to disengage the blade from the scalpel handle. Also, the blade deflector wall inhibits the travel of larger blades and scalpels into the container, making disengaging of the blade from the handle impossible. This forces the user to commit extra time and effort in order to disengage the blade from the scalpel and brings up the possibility that the user could bc injured or the entire scalpel must be discarded.

Accordingly, there is a need to provide a sharps container that is easy and inexpensive to manufacture yet still be simple to use in medical applications. The new container should permit the user to quickly disengage a scalpel blade from the scalpel handle and store the blade in a safe location. This allows the scalpel handle to be sterilized and reused with a new blade in other applications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying figures, where like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally similar elements throughout the separate views and which together with the detailed description below are incorporated in and form part of the specification, serve to further illustrate various embodiments and to explain various principles and advantages all in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a prior art drawing showing a side perspective view of a scalpel with engaged blade.

FIG. 2 is a prior art drawing showing a side perspective view of a scalpel with the blade disengaged from handle.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view illustrating the sharps container according to the invention showing the scalpel blade in a position to engage with the aperture.

FIG. 4 is a top view illustrating the scalpel inserted into the sharps container according to the invention.

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view illustrating the scalpel inserted into the sharps container as seen in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is top view illustrating a close-up of the scalpel inserted into the sharps container where an angular force is applied to disengage the blade from the scalpel handle.

FIG. 7 is a side perspective view illustrating a close-up of the pushing tabs used to disengage the scalpel blade from the handle.

FIG. 8 is top view illustrating a close-up of the removal tab used to hold the blade into a fixed position while the handle is removed from the sharps container.

FIG. 9 is top view illustrating the scalpel handle being removed from the container with the blade hold into a fixed position.

Skilled artisans will appreciate that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements in the figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help to improve understanding of embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In this document, relational terms such as first and second, top and bottom, and the like may be used solely to distinguish one entity or action from another entity or action without necessarily requiring or implying any actual such relationship or order between such entities or actions. The terms “comprises,” “comprising,” or any other variation thereof are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, or apparatus. An element preceded by “comprises . . . a” does not, without more constraints, preclude the existence of additional identical elements in the process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises the element.

Referring now to prior art FIGS. 1 and 2, a surgical scalpel 100 that includes a blade 101 and handle 103 is illustrated. A slot 105 is used in connection with an attachment tab 107 at one end of the handle 103 to frictionally engage the blade 101 to the handle 103. As seen in FIG. 1, once the blade 101 is pushed toward the back of the handle 103, the blade is locked into a rigid position where it can be used to cut skin and/or other tissue for surgical applications.

FIG. 3 illustrates the sharps container 200 shown in an open position. The container 200 includes a top half 203 and bottom half 205 that is connected by one or more hinges 207. An aperture 209 is located along the bottom half 205. Although the location of the aperture 209 is shown located at the edge closest to the hinges 207, it will be evident to those skilled in the art that it can be positioned anywhere along the wall of the bottom half 205 of the container 200. In normal use, the container will be in a closed position (not shown) where the top half 203 and bottom half 205 form a closed receptacle for securely containing the scalpel blade 101 after release.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate top and top perspective views of the sharps container 200 with the scalpel inserted into the aperture 209. As best seen in FIG. 3, described herein, the aperture 209 is formed into a closed hole using a top member or guard 211 which prevents the scalpel 100 from moving vertically when inserted into the aperture 209.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the scalpel 100 inserted into aperture 209 where force is applied to the handle 103 in a direction towards the side wall 213 which, in turn, causes the blade end 215 to release from the attachment tab 107. As seen in FIG. 7, the blade end 215 is pushed against an upper pushing tab 217 and a lower pushing tab 219 by allowing the blade handle 103 to ride within the tab notch 221. The tab notch 221 is formed between the upper pushing tab 217 and lower pushing tab 219 and provides a channel for the handle 103 to rest while the upper pushing tab 217 and lower pushing tab 219 are engaged with the blade end 215.

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate the removal of the blade 101 from the scalpel handle 103 where the handle is pulled rearward from the blade 101. When the blade end 215 is deformed by the upper pushing tab 217 and lower pushing tab 219, the rearward pulling force causes the blade end 215 to contact the removal tab 223. The removal tab 223 works to hold the blade 101 into a rigid position, allowing the attachment tab 107 to be removed from the slot 105 as shown in FIG. 2. Once released, the blade 101 falls into the sharps container 200 where it can be stored until disposal is desired.

While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will be clear that the invention is not so limited. Numerous modifications, changes, variations, substitutions and equivalents will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims. As used herein, the terms “comprises,” “comprising,” or any other variation thereof, are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, or apparatus.