Title:
DETACHABLE HOSPITAL CURTAIN
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A curtain panel suitable for use in a hospital or patient facilities or in surgical settings. The curtain panel comprises a bottom panel removably attached and suspended from a top panel. The top panel may be suspended from a rail or similar mechanism by suspension means such as hooks or rings. The curtain panels may be of various lengths, and a plurality of curtain panels may be used together to form a complete or partial wall or enclosure. The top panel may comprise a mesh or mesh-like fabric or substance so as to allow air, light, and/or water to pass through. The bottom panel may be opaque to provide privacy, and may be flame resistant and/or antibacterial. The bottom panel may be single-use or disposable, or may be reusable. In one exemplary embodiment, the bottom panel is manufactured from sturdy material able to withstand frequent washings or cleanings.



Inventors:
Alexander, David Austin (Sterrett, AL, US)
Stelling, Joan (Birmingham, AL, US)
Application Number:
11/612630
Publication Date:
11/15/2007
Filing Date:
12/19/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47H23/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PUROL, DAVID M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
W. EDWARD RAMAGE (NASHVILLE, TN, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A curtain panel, comprising: a one top panel; and a bottom panel removably attached to the top panel.

2. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is removably attached directly to the top panel.

3. The curtain panel of claim 2, wherein the bottom panel is removably attached directly to the top panel by one or more of buttons, hooks, snaps, or Velcro.

4. The curtain panel of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of straps extending between a bottom edge of the top panel and a top edge of the bottom panel.

5. The curtain panel of claim 4, wherein the straps are either removably attached to the bottom edge of the top panel, removably attached to the top edge of the bottom panel, or both.

6. The curtain panel of claim 5, wherein the straps are removably attached by one or more of buttons, hooks, snaps, or Velcro.

7. The curtain panel of claim 4, further wherein the bottom panel has two side edge, said side edges adapted to be removably fastened to the corresponding side edge or edges of one or more adjacent bottom panels.

8. The curtain panel of claim 7, wherein the side edge of a first bottom panel comprises a flap that extends for all or a portion of the length of the side edge, said flap adapted to attach to the corresponding side edge of a second bottom panel adjacent to the first bottom panel.

9. The curtain panel of claim 8, wherein the flap contains one or more snaps, buttons, magnetic material, or Velcro.

10. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is offset from the top panel.

11. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is opaque.

12. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the top panel comprises a mesh-like fabric.

13. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is disposable.

14. The curtain panel of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is washable and reusable.

15. A curtain panel, comprising: at least one top panel; and at least one bottom panel removably attached to at least one top panel.

16. The curtain panel of claim 15, wherein two or more bottom panels are removably attached to the same top panel.

17. The curtain panel of claim 15, wherein two or more top panels are removably attached to the same bottom panel.

18. A hospital or surgical curtain panel wall or enclosure, comprising: a plurality of top panels; and a plurality of bottom panels removably attached to one or more of the plurality of top panels, wherein the bottom panels are placed end-to-end to form the wall or enclosure.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/751,529, filed Dec. 19, 2005, by David Alexander, and is entitled in whole or in part to that filing date for priority. The specification and drawings of Provisional Patent Application No. 60/751,529 are incorporated herein in their entireties by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates generally to hospital curtains. More specifically, the invention relates to a detachable, ventilating enclosure for use with a supporting structure or railing to define an enclosure of the type utilized for hospital beds, surgical facilities, or the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of curtains or a device to create an individual cubicle or space around a hospital bed to provide privacy to patients is well known. Typically, the curtain is suspended from a rail or similar support mechanism located on or near the ceiling, and then moved along the rail or support mechanism to close or open, in whole or in part, the cubicle or space. Curtain panels in the prior art are constructed as an integral unit, usually with a lower portion sufficiently opaque to provide privacy and an upper portion sufficiently porous to provide ventilation and the transmission of light and water. These portions often are constructed of different materials stitched or glued together.

Curtains in the prior art are expensive to manufacture, difficult to launder, and increase the risk of infection. One noted problem is that removal of prior curtains for cleaning often requires the nurse or individual removing the curtain to stand on a chair or similar piece of furniture to reach the top of the curtain and detach the curtain from the rail or support mechanism. Replacement of a curtain panel has a similar problem. This can be dangerous to the individual doing the removing and any patient nearby.

Accordingly, what is needed is an improved hospital curtain panel that can be inexpensively manufactured and easily removed and replaced.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a curtain panel with a bottom panel removably attached and suspended from a top panel. The top panel may be suspended from a rail or similar mechanism by suspension means such as hooks or rings. The lower edge of the top panel contains fastening means to attach the bottom panel. The curtain panels may be of various lengths, and a plurality of curtain panels may be used together.

The top panel may be solid, or comprise a mesh or mesh-like fabric or substance. The top panel may be constructed so as to allow air, light, and/or water to pass through.

The bottom panel may be attached to and suspended from the top panel by a variety of means. In one exemplary embodiment, the suspension means comprises a plurality of straps extending from the upper edge of the bottom panel and fastened to the top panel by fastening means. Fastening means include, but are not limited to, buttons, hooks, snaps, Velcro and the like. In an alternative embodiment, the straps may extend from the lower edge of the top panel, with fastening means disposed along the upper edge of the bottom panel. In yet another alternative embodiment, the straps may be independent and fastened at both ends to the top and bottom panels. In another embodiment, the bottom panel may be fastened directly to the top panel.

The bottom panel may be opaque so as to provide privacy, and may be manufactured from a variety of materials known to the industry, including but not limited to polypropylene, polyester, treated natural fibers, or other fabrics. The material may be flame resistant and/or antibacterial. The bottom panel may be single-use or disposable, or may be reusable. In one exemplary embodiment, the bottom panel is manufactured from sturdy material able to withstand frequent washings or cleanings.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, the bottom panel further may comprise pleats, which may be located at the upper edge or bottom edge, or both, and may face one side or both. In one exemplary embodiment, the top panel extends down far enough for a person of average height to reach the fastening means while standing on the floor, thus enabling the convenient and safe detachment of the bottom panel from the top panel. Easy removal and replacement of the bottom panel for cleaning and other purposes is thereby promoted.

In another exemplary embodiment, a plurality of curtain panels are used to form a partially or wholly-enclosed area. The sides of adjacent panels may be fastened together in a variety of configurations.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, the invention includes means on the top panel or bottom panel, or both, for indicating when the curtain panel was last changed, washed, and/or cleaned. Said means can be, but is not limited to, a portion of the panel, or a label on the panel, where the date the panel was last changed, washed, and/or cleaned can be written or inscribed, or where some other indicia can be written, such as the number of days before the panel should be changed, washed and/or cleaned. Said means also may be expanded so that one or more dates or checklists can be provided or written so as to provide an auditable or reviewable trail or history of such actions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a view of a top panel and the upper edge of a bottom panel in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a view of a top panel in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a view of a bottom panel in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows another view of a bottom panel in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows a view of a flap in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a view of a strap in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the numerous figures, wherein like references identify like elements of the invention, FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. A curtain panel in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention generally comprises a top panel 2 and a bottom panel 4 removably attached and suspended from the top panel 2. The curtain panels, and the components thereof, may be of various lengths, and a plurality of curtain panels may be used together.

The top panel 2 is suspended from a rail or similar mechanism (not shown) by suspension means, such as hooks or rings or Velcro (not shown), inserted into a plurality of upper eyelets 8 disposed along the upper edge 5 of the top panel 2. The lower edge 6 of the top panel 2 contains fastening means 14 to attach the bottom panel 4. In one exemplary embodiment, the section of the top panel 2 between the upper and lower edges comprises a mesh or mesh-like fabric or substance 3. The mesh 3 may be of any size and configuration. In one exemplary embodiment, the mesh 3 is of an appropriate dimension to allow air, light and/or water to pass through.

The upper edge 5 and lower edge 6 may comprise a band of material 17, 18 attached by sewing, gluing, or other means to the mesh 3. The bands 17, 18 may be located on either or both sides of the mesh. The bands 17, 18 may be located on either or both sides (i.e., front and back) of the panel. The bands may be of any appropriate width. In one exemplary embodiment, the bands may be about 2 inches wide. In an alternative embodiment, side bands 23 may be attached to the panel (on either or both sides) by sewing, gluing, Velcro, or other means. The side bands may be of any appropriate width, and also may be located on either front and back or both. In one exemplary embodiment, the side bands may be from one-half to one inch wide.

The bottom panel 4 may be attached to and suspended from the top panel 2 by a variety of means. In one exemplary embodiment, the suspension means comprises a plurality of straps 12 extending from the upper edge 10 of the bottom panel 4 and fastened to the top panel 2 by fastening means 14. Fastening means include, but are not limited to, buttons, hooks, snaps, Velcro and the like. The straps 12 comprise corresponding fastening means 15 as appropriate for the fastening means 14 on the panel. In an alternative embodiment, the straps 12 may extend from the lower edge 6 of the top panel 2, with fastening means 14 disposed along the upper edge 10 of the bottom panel 4. In yet another alternative embodiment, the straps 12 may be independent and fastened at both ends to the top and bottom panels 2, 4. In yet another embodiment, the bottom panel 4 may be attached directly to the top panel 2, by fastening means including, but not limited to, buttons, hooks, snaps, Velcro, and the like.

The bottom panel 4 may be opaque so as to provide privacy, and may be manufactured from a variety of materials known to the industry, including but not limited to polypropylene, polyester, treated natural fibers, or other fabrics. The material may be flame resistant and/or antibacterial. The bottom panel 4 may be single-use or disposable, or may be reusable. In one exemplary embodiment, the bottom panel 4 is manufactured from sturdy material able to withstand frequent washings or cleanings.

The bottom panel 4 further may comprise pleats 16, which may be located at the upper edge or bottom edge, or both, and may face one side or both. In one exemplary embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the pleats 16 are located along the upper edge and alternate facing (i.e., front, back, front, back).

The upper edge 10 and lower edge 11 of the lower panel 4 also may comprise bands of material 21, 22 formed by hemming or attached by sewing, gluing, or other means to the panel 4. The bands 21, 22 may be located on either or both sides (i.e, front and back) of the panel. The bands may be of any appropriate width. In one exemplary embodiment, the bands may be about 2 inches wide. In an alternative embodiment, side bands 23 may be attached to the panel (on either or both sides) by sewing, gluing, Velcro or other means. The side bands may be of any appropriate width, and also may be located on either front and back or both. In one exemplary embodiment, the side bands may be from one-half to one inch wide. In another exemplary embodiment, the bottom band may be of the same size or width as the side bands.

In an exemplary embodiment, the top panel 4 extends down far enough for a person of average height to reach the fastening means 8 while standing on the floor, thus enabling the convenient and safe detachment of the bottom panel 4 from the top panel 2. Easy removal and replacement of the bottom panel 4 for cleaning and other purposes is thereby promoted. The vertical dimension (width, height, or length) of the bottom panel 4 would then be adapted to the width of the top panel 2 so that the lower edge 11 of the bottom panel 4, when the bottom panel 4 is attached to the top panel 2, would reach the vicinity of the floor in the manner of prior art curtains.

The upper eyelets 8 may be variably or evenly spaced so as to provide adequate support for the curtain panel 1. In one exemplary embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the upper eyelets 8 are evenly spaced a distance of 7 inches, although this distance may be greater or smaller.

The fastening means 14 (or straps 12, when straps are attached to the top panel 2) also may be variably or evenly spaced. In one exemplary embodiment, the fastening means 14 have the same spacing as the upper eyelets 8, and may be located directly below the corresponding eyelet or offset therefrom. As shown in FIG. 1, the spacing of the outermost fastening means 14a may be varied from the even spacing of the inner fastening means. In one exemplary embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the fastening means 14 are evenly spaced a distance of 7 inches, while the outermost fastening means 14a are spaced 6 inches from the adjacent fastening means 14, although these distances may be greater or smaller. Spacing of the straps 12 correspond to the spacing of the fastening means 14.

The top panel 2 and the bottom panel 4 may be of the same or different horizontal dimension (width or length). For example, a top panel could be 10 feet long, and could support two bottom panels of appropriate length (or vice versa), such as two five-foot bottom panels. In another exemplary embodiment, the top panel lengths are each 5 feet long, or multiples of 5 feet.

In another exemplary embodiment, a plurality of curtain panels 1 are used to form a partially or wholly-enclosed area. The plurality of panels may be hung end-to-end, and may be unfastened or fastened, wholly or partially. In one embodiment, the top panel 2 and bottom panel 4 of a curtain panel 1 may be hung so their sides are in vertical alignment, with fastening means 30 attached to the respective sides of the bottom and/or top panels comprising the adjacent curtain panels 1. In another exemplary embodiment, the bottom panel 4 is slightly offset from the corresponding top panel 2, as seen in FIG. 1, so as to facilitate the formation of the enclosed area with the multiple curtain panels 1. This offset may be accomplished by having the outermost straps 12a on the bottom panel 4 be located at different distances from their respective panel edges than the corresponding fastening means 8 on the top panel 2.

Fastening means 30 may be attached to one or both sides of the bottom panels (or top panels) so as to enable adjacent bottom panels (or top panels) to be attached to each other. In an exemplary embodiment, fastening means may be located only on the bottom panels. The bottom panels also may be positioned to overlap at their edges. In this embodiment, the bottom panels may be slightly longer than the top panels.

In another exemplary embodiment, the fastening means 30 comprises a flap 32 positioned along one side of the bottom panel, which overlaps with and attaches to the corresponding side of the adjacent bottom panel. The flap 32 may extend for all or a portion of the length of the side. The flap can be attached with one or more strips of Velcro or magnetic materials, or a plurality of snaps, buttons, or the like. In one exemplary embodiment, the flap is V-shaped, adapted so that the corresponding side of the adjacent panel fits inside the ā€œVā€ and is fastened therein.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, the invention includes means on the top panel or bottom panel, or both, for indicating when the curtain panel was last changed, washed, and/or cleaned. Said means can be, but is not limited to, a portion of the panel, or a label on the panel, where the date the panel was last changed, washed, and/or cleaned can be written or inscribed, or where some other indicia can be written, such as the number of days before the panel should be changed, washed and/or cleaned. Said means also may be expanded so that one or more dates or checklists can be provided or written so as to provide an auditable or reviewable trail or history of such actions.

Thus, it should be understood that the embodiments and examples have been chosen and described in order to best illustrate the principals of the invention and its practical applications to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited for the particular uses contemplated. Even though specific embodiments of this invention have been described, they are not to be taken as exhaustive. There are several variations that will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto.