Title:
METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR HANDS-FREE DISPOSAL OF MEDICAL WASTE PRODUCTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable medical waste disposal assembly that offers convenience and safety during use, disposal and maintenance of the disposal assembly. The portable and sanitizable medical waste disposal assembly includes a waste receptacle mounted within a unitary frame providing increased strength and stability to the disposal assembly so as to facilitate transport and sanitization. A positive closure system mounts to the unitary frame and operably interconnects to a slidable lid on the waste receptacle such that the waste receptacle is maintained in a closed disposition unless specifically opened by a user. The positive closure system can be adapted so as to adjustably retain the waste receptacle within the unitary frame while allowing for quick release of the waste receptacle at a time of disposal of the receptacle's contents.



Inventors:
Baader, Dennis L. (Nelson, WI, US)
Brommer, Rodney O. (Nelson, WI, US)
Hinck, David S. (Lake City, MN, US)
Reinhardt, Robert J. (Kellogg, MN, US)
Rodewald, Joshua A. (Lake City, MN, US)
Smith, Joshua M. (Lake City, MN, US)
Sommerfield, Jeffrey H. (Millville, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/030579
Publication Date:
08/21/2008
Filing Date:
02/13/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/737, 220/262
International Classes:
B65D43/26; B65B69/00; B65D25/20
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Barnes & Thornburg LLP (FW) (Fort Wayne, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A hands-free medical waste disposal assembly comprising: a waste receptacle including a lid assembly portion and a container portion; a frame adapted to receive the waste receptacle; and a positive closure system attached to the unitary frame, the positive closure system engaging the lid assembly portion to bias the lid assembly portion towards a closed disposition from an open disposition, wherein the positive closure system include a retention assembly having a capture portion for slidably capturing the lid assembly portion.

2. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 1, wherein the container portion further comprises an access track adapted to slidably receive the lid assembly portion.

3. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 2, wherein the lid assembly portion further comprises: a bottom stationary member having a disposal aperture and an upwardly projecting rear retention member; and an upper slidable member including an upwardly projecting front biasing member wherein the bottom stationary member and upper slidable member are operably mounted within the access track.

4. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 3, wherein the capture portion slidably captures the upwardly projecting front biasing member so as to selectively cover or expose the disposal aperture of the bottom stationary member.

5. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 1 wherein the frame is fabricated from a seamless frame member arranged to define a pair of side members for receiving the waste receptacle.

6. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 5, wherein the seamless frame member is formed from a sanitizable material selected from the group consisting of: painted carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and polymeric materials.

7. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 5, wherein each side member includes an upper mounting portion for engaging a flanged upper surface on the waste receptacle.

8. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 5, wherein the seamless frame member defines an upper handle portion on each side member.

9. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 1 wherein the positive closure system further includes an interface assembly, a linkage assembly and a biasing assembly operably connected to the retention assembly, wherein force applied to the interface assembly is translated to the retention assembly through the linkage assembly and the biasing assembly.

10. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 9, wherein the interface assembly includes a foot pedal rotatably attached to the mounting frame.

11. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 9, wherein the linkage assembly includes a pressurized cylinder to bias the retention assembly to a normally closed disposition.

12. The hands-free medical waste disposal assembly of claim 11, wherein the pressurized cylinder provides an initial resistance force applied to the interface assembly to prevent non-intentional biasing of the retention assembly.

13. A method for disposing of medical waste comprising: providing a waste receptacle mounted in a unitary frame, the waste receptacle including a lid assembly portion and a container portion; attaching a positive closure system to the unitary frame, the positive closure system engaging the lid assembly portion; and applying a hands-free force to the positive closure system such that the lid assembly portion is slidably directed from a closed disposition to an open disposition.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising: removing the hands-free force from the positive closure system such that the lid assembly portion returns to the closed disposition.

15. The method of claim 13, further comprising: forming an access track on the container portion adapted to slidably receive the lid assembly portion.

16. The method of claim 13, wherein applying the hands-free force comprises stepping on a biasing assembly.

17. The method of claim 13, wherein applying the hands-free force comprises overcoming an initial resistance force in the positive closure system.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/901,400 filed Feb. 15, 2007, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a container for disposal of medical waste. More specifically, the present invention relates to a portable and sanitizable disposal assembly providing for hands free operation of a normally closed container access.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Containers for the disposal of used medical devices and equipment are well known. Generally, these containers are designed to clearly spell out their hazardous contents such that medical professionals know to take extra care when disposing of contaminated and/or used items. Careful use of these containers are necessary not only because of the possible biohazards such as blood and other fluids but also because of the physical nature of the piercing and/or cutting nature of the products including needles, glass and cutting instruments.

In clinical, laboratory and hospital settings, it is very common to have wall mounted or floor positionable receptacles for depositing contaminated and used items. Often times, specially marked bags are positioned within the receptacles such that the bag can be removed and disposed of either as it is filled or at regular intervals. Unfortunately, the use of such bags requires an individual to handle the bags, such handling potentially leading to accidental exposure of the individual to the contaminated materials.

In order to reduce the potential for such exposure, a variety of hands-free devices have been developed that allow a container to be used and subsequently transported to a designated disposal site while substantially eliminating the necessity for the individual to come into contact with the container. Examples of said hands-free devices include devices available from Tyco Healthcare including the SHARPSCART® hands-free device as well as the versions disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,114,629 and its related applications, all which are herein incorporated by reference.

While these prior art devices have helped to increase safety in using these medical waste receptacles, it would be advantageous to further improve on known designs to increase functionality and safety.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention addresses the aforementioned needs by providing for a portable and sanitizable medical waste disposal assembly that offers convenience and safety during use, disposal and maintenance of the disposal assembly. The portable and sanitizable medical waste disposal assembly generally comprises a waste receptacle mounted within a unitary frame providing increased strength and stability to the disposal assembly so as to facilitate transport and sanitization. The unitary frame can include a handle portion providing a handle region for secure direction of the disposal assembly to points of use, disposal or sanitization. A positive closure system mounts to the unitary frame and operably interconnects to a slidable lid on the waste receptacle such that the waste receptacle is maintained in a closed disposition unless specifically opened by a user. The positive closure system includes a footpedal such that the slidable lid is openable so as to provide hand-free operation and eliminate the necessity of operator contact proximate the slidable lid. The positive closure system can provide an initial opening resistance as the footpedal is operated so as to reduce the potential for unintentional operation and opening of the slidable lid. The positive closure system can be adapted so as to adjustably retain the waste receptacle within the unitary frame while allowing for quick release of the waste receptacle at a time of disposal of the receptacle's contents. In addition, the positive closure system can be configured to reset its capture and control of the slidable lid following emptying of the waste receptacle or in the event that capture of the slidable lid by the positive closure system is disrupted.

In one aspect of the present disclosure, the present application is directed to a portable and sanitizable medical waste disposal assembly comprising a waste receptacle, a unitary frame and a positive closure system. The waste receptacle can be mounted within the unitary frame, wherein the positive closure system retains the waste receptacle within the unitary frame. The unitary frame is preferably fabricated of easily cleanable and/or sanitizable materials such as, for example, painted carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel and suitable polymers. The unitary frame generally includes casters such that a handle portion provides for easy manipulation of the medical waste disposal assembly during use, disposal or sanitization. The positive closure system attaches to the unitary frame and operably interfaces with a slidable lid on the waste receptacle such that the slidable lid is biased in a normally closed disposition. The positive closure system includes a footpedal providing for hands free operation of the medical waste disposal system. In some presently preferred embodiments, the positive closure system can include a biasing element providing an initial resistance to an operator such that non-intentional opening of the slidable lid is avoided. The positive closure system can include a retaining member and a capture member for positively retaining the waste receptacle within the unitary frame and to allow recapture of the waste receptacle should the interconnection of the positive closure system and slidable lid be disrupted during use or waste disposal.

In another aspect of the present disclosure, a method for providing hands free disposal of medical waste can include fabricating a unitary frame to increase overall strength and maneuverability of a medical waste disposal assembly. The unitary frame can include a handle portion allowing for easy maneuvering of the medical waste disposal assembly. The method can further include mounting a waste receptacle within the unitary frame and releasably capturing the waste receptacle with a hands free access assembly. The method can further include configuring the hands free access assembly to maintain the waste receptacle in a normally closed disposition. In some embodiments, the method can further include providing an increased initial opening resistance so as to avoid accidental opening of the waste receptacle.

In yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a portable medical waste disposal system can comprise a unitary frame, a closable waste receptacle and a hands free opening assembly. The hands free opening assembly simultaneously retains the waste receptacle within the unitary frame while providing for hands free opening and closing of a slidable lid on the waste receptacle.

The above summary of the various aspects of the disclosure is not intended to describe each illustrated embodiment or every implementation of the invention. The figures in the detailed description that follow more particularly exemplify these embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These, as well as other objects and advantages of this invention, will be more completely understood and appreciated by referring to the following more detailed description of the presently preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a portable medical waste disposal system of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a unitary frame of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the unitary frame of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the unitary frame of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a waste receptacle of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the waste receptacle of FIG. 5 including a portion of a lid assembly.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the waste receptacle of FIG. 5 including a lid assembly.

FIG. 8 is a perspective, exploded view of the lid assembly used in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an interface assembly of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is a front view of the unitary frame of FIG. 2.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the unitary frame of FIG. 2.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a capture assembly of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a retention member of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the unitary frame of FIG. 2.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 16 is a rear view of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the portable medical waste disposal system of FIG. 1.

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a portable medical waste disposal assembly, hereafter referred to waste disposal assembly 100, generally comprises a unitary frame 102, a waste receptacle 104 and a hands-free actuation assembly 106. Waste disposal assembly 100 can comprise any of a variety of suitable sizes dependent upon the setting in which the assembly is utilized and the types of waste items being generated within said setting. The materials utilized in constructing waste disposal assembly 100 generally comprise materials suitable for exposure to cleaning and sanitizing environments including, for example, painted carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel as well as suitable polymeric materials.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 4, unitary frame 102 generally comprises a single frame member 108 manipulated to form a pair of side members 110a, 110b. Side members 110a, 10b are preferably arranged in a mirror-image fashion defining an upper mounting portion 114, an upper handle portion 116, a side retaining portion 118, and a lower mounting portion 120. The lower mounting portion 120 on each side member 110a, 110b can include a pair of caster assemblies 122. In some embodiments, caster assemblies 122 can comprise selectably lockable casters for retaining the waste disposal assembly 100 in a desired location during use. At a rear portion of the unitary frame 102, a cross member 124 can interconnect the upper mounting portion 114 of each side member 110a, 110b while a pair of mounting arms 126a, 126b are attached between the upper mounting portion 114 and a lower transition portion 128 on each side member 110a, 110b. Mounting arms 126a, 126b each include a retainer channel 127 for operable connection to a quick-release retainer member 129.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 5, 6 and 7, waste receptacle 104 generally comprises a container 130 having a front wall 132, a rear wall 134, a pair of side walls 136a, 136b, a floor 138 and a top opening 140. At top opening 140, a flanged upper surface 142 extends from the front wall 132, rear wall 134, and side walls 136a, 136b. Along the rear wall 134 and side walls 136a, 136b, a vertical track surface 144 projects upward from the flanged upper surface 142. A horizontal track surface 146 projects inward from the vertical track surface 144 such that the flanged upper surface 142, vertical track surface 144 and horizontal track surface 146 cooperatively define an access track 148. At the front wall 132, access track 148 includes a track opening 150.

Referring to FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, a lid assembly 160 comprising a bottom stationary member 162 and an upper slidable member 164 is operably mounted within the access track 148. Bottom stationary member 162 generally comprises a sheet 166 that is slightly larger than the top opening 140 but smaller than the access track 148 such that the bottom stationary member 162 can be positioned within the access track 148 by sliding the bottom stationary member 162 through the track opening 150. Sheet 166 generally includes a disposal aperture 168 and an upwardly projecting retention member 170. Upper slidable member 164 generally comprises a solid sheet 174 having an upwardly projecting biasing member 176. Solid sheet 174 generally has a similar width as sheet 166 such that the upper slidable member 164 is slidably insertable into the access track 148 through track opening 150. Solid sheet 174 must be at least large enough to fully cover the disposal aperture 168 when the solid sheet 174 is positioned directly above the disposal aperture 168.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, hands-free actuation assembly 106 generally comprises an interface assembly 180, a linkage assembly 182, a biasing assembly 184 and a retention assembly 186. Interface assembly 180 as depicted in FIGS. 9 and 10 can comprise an interface member 188 defining a foot pedal 190 and a pair of mounting arms 192a, 192b. Using mounting arms 192a, 192b, interface member 188 can be rotatably attached to the unitary frame 102 using mounting arm bores 194 in the lower mounting portion 120 of each side member 110a, 110b.

Referring to FIG. 3, linkage assembly 182 generally comprises a first link member 194, a second link member 196, a third link member 198 and a pressurized cylinder 200. First link member 194 is fixedly attached to mounting arm 192b such that operation of foot pedal 190 translates articulating movement to the linkage assembly 182. Third link member 198 includes a link bore 202 for rotatably attaching the third link member 198 to the side retaining portion 118 on side member 110b so as to define a pivot point 204. The pressurized cylinder 200 is mounted between the third link member 198 and mounting arm 126b such that a cylinder arm 206 attaches to the third link member 198 between the pivot point 204 and mounting arm 126b.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 11 and 12, biasing assembly 184 can comprise a slider assembly 210 and a capture assembly 212. Slider assembly 210 can comprise a front mounting member 214, a rear mounting member 216, a slide arm 218 and a slider bracket 220. Front mounting member 214 and rear mounting member 216 can each include a mounting bore (not shown) for receivably mounting the slide arm 218. Front mounting member 214 and rear mounting member 216 can be attached to an under side of the upper mounting portion 114 on side member 110b. Slider bracket 220 can include a mounting surface 222, a front slider surface 224 and a rear slider surface 226. Mounting surface 222 includes a mounting bore (not shown) for operable connection to a link channel 208 in the third link member 198. Front slider surface 224 and rear slider surface 226 each include a slider bore (not shown) to accommodate the slide arm 218 as well as a connecting bore (not show) for rotatable interconnection of the capture assembly 212. Capture assembly 212 generally comprises a rotatable mounting portion 228 and a capture portion 230 that are arranged in generally perpendicular orientation. Rotatable mounting portion 228 includes a rotation arm 232, a front attachment arm 233, a rear attachment arm 234 and a connecting arm 235. Capture portion 230 includes a front connecting arm 236, a rear connecting arm 238, a pair of side arms 240a, 240b, a forward capture arm 242, a rear capture arm 243, a support arm 244 and a rear contact arm 246. Rear attachment arm 232 and rear contact arm 246 operably interconnect at a rearmost contact point 248. Front connecting arm 236, rear connecting arm 238 and side arms 240a, 240b cooperatively define a capture region 250. Capture region 250 generally defines an area slightly larger than a top cross-sectional area of upwardly projecting biasing member 176.

Referring to FIG. 13, quick-release retainer member 129 generally comprises a unitary member having a pair of adjustment arms 260a, 260b, a pair of vertical retainer arms 262a, 262b, a pair of retainer side arms 264a, 264b and a retainer arm 266. Retainer side arms 264a, 264b are sized such that when vertical retainer arms 262a, 262b are placed in a vertical disposition, retainer arm 266 resides in a forward position with respect to the upwardly projecting retention member 170 on bottom stationary member 162.

Prior to using waste disposal assembly 100, waste receptacle 104 must be attached and secured within the unitary frame 102. To accomplish said attachment, the user rotatably positions the capture assembly 212 to a non-capture disposition 300 as shown in FIG. 14. This is generally accomplished by grasping the capture portion 230 and lifting upwards such that the capture assembly 212 rotates about the rotation arm 232. Next the quick release member 129 is placed in a non-retaining disposition 302 by lifting and directing the retainer arm 266 in a rearward direction such that the quick release member 129 rotates rearward around the adjustment arms 260a, 260b. With the capture assembly 212 in non-capture disposition 300 and quick release member 129 in non-retaining disposition 302, unitary frame 102 is in an open receiving disposition 304. The user then positions the waste receptacle 104 such that the flanged upper surface 142 sets onto and is supported by the upper mounting portion 114 of each side member 110a, 110b and the cross member 124 as illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16. Once the waste receptacle is positioned within unitary frame 102, capture portion 230 is lifted upward such that the capture assembly 212 rotates about the rotation arm 232 and capture region 250 is positioned over and around the upwardly projecting biasing member 176. Finally, retainer arm 266 is lifted up and over the upwardly projecting retention member 170 wherein it is subsequently released such that it falls on a forward side of the upwardly projecting retention member 170 so as prevent forward movement of the bottom stationary member 162. With upwardly projecting biasing member 176 positioned within capture region 250 and retainer arm 266 positioned forward of the upwardly projecting retention member 170, waste disposal assembly 100 is arranged in an operational disposition 306 as illustrated in FIG. 17.

Prior to disposing of waste contents within the waste disposal assembly 100, a user directs the waste disposal assembly 100 to a desired location by grasping and manipulating unitary frame 102 with the upper handle portion 116 on one or both of the side members 110a, 110b. Once the waste disposal assembly 100 has been positioned, the user can in some embodiments lock the caster assemblies 122 so as to maintain the desired location and orientation. Should the user desire to reposition the waste disposal assembly 100 or if the waste receptacle 104 is to be emptied, the user can unlock the caster assemblies 122 and direct the waste disposal assembly 100 again using the upper handle portions 116.

Once the waste disposal assembly 100 has been properly positioned and is in the operation disposition 306, a user can dispose of waste contents by manipulating hands-free actuation assembly 106 by stepping on foot pedal 190 as shown in FIG. 18. Due to the arrangement of hands-free actuation assembly 106 and more specifically, the orientation of linkage assembly 182 and pressurized cylinder 200, an initial resistance must be overcome before hands free actuation assembly 106 accomplishes opening of the waste receptacle 104. This initial resistance inhibits accidental opening of the waste receptacle 104 so as to reduce the potential for unintended opening and possible accidental exposure to waste contents within the waste receptacle 104. As the user continues to apply downward pressure to the foot pedal 190, mounting arms 192a, 192b are caused to rotate in a forward direction such that first link member 194 is also directed forward. First link member 194 directs second link member 196 in a forward direction which simultaneously directs third link member 198 to rotate in a rearward direction about the pivot point 204. As third link member 198 rotates rearward, cylinder arm 206 is directed rearward into the pressurized cylinder 200 while at the same time, slider assembly 210 is caused to slide rearward along the slide arm 218. As the slider assembly 210 moves rearward, capture assembly 212 is directed rearward such that forward capture arm 242 contacts the upwardly projecting biasing member 176 and pushes the upper slidable member 164 in a rearward direction. As the upper slidable member 164 is directed rearward, disposal aperture 168 is uncovered and exposed allowing the user to drop the waste contents into the waste receptacle 104.

Once the waste contents have been dropped into the waste receptacle 104, the user can release the foot pedal 190 wherein the pressurized cylinder 200 immediately directs the cylinder arm 206 in a forward direction causing the third link member to rotate around the pivot point 204 in a forward direction such that the slider assembly 210, capture assembly 212 and consequently the upper slidable member 164 are directed forward to cover the disposal aperture 168. At the same time, second link member 196 and first link member 194 are directed in a rearward direction such that mounting arms 192a, 192b rotate in a rearward direction thus allowing the foot pedal 190 to move upwards where it is in position for subsequent biasing by the user.

As discussed previously, waste receptacle 104 can be removed from the unitary frame 100 by directing the capture assembly 212 to non-capture disposition 300 and quick release member 129 to the non-retaining disposition 302 and lifting the waste receptacle 104 from the unitary frame 102. This is generally accomplished when the waster receptacle 104 is filled with waste content and is to be disposed of in an incinerator or container that can be hauled away for destruction and/or disposal. Generally, upper slidable member 164 can be directed rearward over bottom stationary member 162 to uncover disposal aperture 168 or alternatively, both the bottom stationary member 162 and upper slidable member 164 can be slidably removed through the track opening 150 in the access track 148.

In some instances during installation of waste receptacle 104 within the unitary frame 102, upper slidable member 164 may be positioned such that the upwardly projecting biasing member 176 is in a rearward location with respect to the capture assembly 212. In this case, capture region 250 may not be in alignment with the upwardly projecting biasing member 176 such that the capture assembly 212 does not successfully engage the upper slidable member 164 as illustrated in FIG. 19. To reset the engagement of capture assembly 212 and the upper slidable member 164, the user need only step upon foot pedal 190 as previously described wherein capture assembly 212 is directed rearward over the upper slidable member 164 until the capture region 250 is positioned over the upwardly projecting biasing member 176 and consequently the capture assembly 212 falls over and engages the upper slidable member 164.

As will understood of one in skill in the art, waste disposal assembly 100 as described above provides for ease of movement while allowing for easy disposal of waste contents as well as limiting opening and possible exposure to said waste contents only when purposely directed by a user. While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, that many modifications and equivalent arrangements may be made thereof within the scope of the invention, which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation of the appended claims so as to encompass all equivalent structures and products.