CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present application derives priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/473,656 filed May 28, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to article dispensers and, more particularly, to a device for holding sterile pre-packaged surgical gloves in separate compartments grouped by size and for facilitating the removal of a single pair of surgical gloves for use in rendering medical treatment.
2. Description of the Background
Medical care providers routinely wear protective gloves to reduce the likelihood of contamination and to reduce the transmission of disease. In order to protect patients and themselves, medical care providers frequently change gloves, disposing of a used pair and replacing them with a fresh pair. Medical care facilities keep a large supply of gloves where they will be readily available to providers rendering patient care.
Non-sterile examination gloves are typically provided in boxes filled with a number of individual gloves. The box is often provided with a perforated panel, in the shape of a slot, which can be removed to allow access to the contents through a slot shaped opening. As gloves are removed, the type tissue box. Examination gloves are provided in a number of different size categories (typically Small, Medium and Large) to allow a medical care provider to obtain gloves reasonably approximating their exact glove size. Examination gloves are also provided with different characteristics such as latex free gloves or gloves without powder.
Simple wall-mount racks have been designed to hold boxes of examination gloves and to save space for other medical equipment. The racks securely hold the box while leaving the slot exposed for easy access. The racks are designed to hold one or more boxes and accommodate boxes of different sizes so that different gloves may be made available on the same rack.
Medical care providers also use sterile surgical gloves for examination and treatment when a sterile environment must be preserved. These surgical gloves are sterilized by ethylene oxide gas, or gamma radiation. Each pair is typically folded and packed in a paper wallet for presentation to the surgeon. The paper wallets are packed in a paper pouch which is sealed from all sides. Typically, 50 or so pouches are packed in a retail box. The boxes are labeled by size, and sterile gloves are typically provided in numbered sizes and half sizes (5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, etc.) so that procedures requiring a high level of manual dexterity may be performed in well fitted gloves. Most medical facilities will keep a supply of sterile gloves in sizes and half sizes running from 5.5 to 9, so that eight different glove sizes are available to the medical care providers. The racks used for examination gloves are not suitable for sterile gloves because a rack for eight boxes would be unduly large and impractical. In addition, the sterile gloves must be kept in the sterile package until they are used, so the method of pulling gloves through a slot shaped opening is not feasible. Nevertheless, in some settings such as emergency surgery, it is essential that a supply of sterile gloves be readily available and unambiguously marked so that a nurse or medical care provider selects the most appropriate glove size with minimal time and effort.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Thus, there remains a need for an organized holder for sterile gloves which will allow storage of a supply of sterile gloves (removed from their boxes) in segregated sizes and half sizes, and which allows a nursing assistant to quickly identify the correct gloves for a given situation, easily grasp and remove one pre-packaged pair of gloves without disrupting other packages of gloves remaining in the holder. The organized dispenser of sterile gloves should also allow convenient restocking of the supply of sterile gloves.
It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide a holder for sterile surgical gloves having means to facilitate the grasping of a single sealed package containing a pair of gloves and having means to retain other pairs of gloves within the dispenser to prevent inadvertent removal.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an organized dispenser for sterile gloves which provides means for easily restocking the dispenser with additional packages containing pairs of gloves.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a color-coded dispenser for sterile surgical gloves having separate labeled compartments for unambiguous identification of the correct size and type of gloves needed.
In accordance with the stated objects there is provided a dispenser for pre-packaged pairs of sterile surgical gloves comprising a generally rectangular back and a plurality of forwardly extending generally rectangular sides forming an enclosure having at least one open exposure, the open exposure being bounded by a generally rectangular perimeter rim. A plurality of dividers is attached to and extends between opposite sides for dividing the enclosure into separate compartments, to receive and hold packages containing sterile gloves. All of said separate compartments are arranged to communicate with the open exposure. Each of said dividers is provided with a notch in a portion proximate to said open exposure to facilitate grasping a package of sterile gloves within the compartment. The perimeter rim of the open exposure includes inwardly-protruding flanges along opposing sides of which block the margins of said open exposure, thereby retaining packages of sterile gloves within said compartments and preventing inadvertent removal of multiple packages. Each individual package of sterile gloves may be removed from the enclosure by grasping the front of the package (which remains clear by virtue of the notch in the partition), and by pulling the package outward such that the package bends to pass between said flanges and through the open exposure. The underlying package of sterile gloves, within the compartments, will be moved outward by frictional force, but will not bend to pass between said flanges and will remain inside the enclosure for ready access.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The dispenser of the present invention may be stocked with packages of gloves by removing a stack of gloves from the retail carton and by pushing the stack of packages between the flanges and into one of the compartments. The flanges retain the packages within the compartments without the need for any manually operated closure. It is intended that each compartment contain like sized gloves, in packages and that the dispenser should be constructed with a number of compartments matching the number of separate sizes of gloves needed for the staff of medical providers in a user's facility. Typically, sterile gloves are available in half sizes running from 5.5 to 9; therefore, compartments are provided for each size. The dispenser may be positioned in a vertical or a horizontal orientation at the preference of the user. A set of labels is provided to mark the compartments with individual labels indicating the size and type of gloves contained therein. The labels may be adhered to the perimeter rim in either a horizontal or vertical configuration to provide for both vertical and horizontal orientation of the dispenser.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment and certain modifications thereof when taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a sterile surgical glove dispenser according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a front view of the sterile surgical glove dispenser as in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a back view of the sterile surgical glove dispenser as in FIGS. 1 and 2.
FIG. 4 is a side perspective view of a sterile surgical glove dispenser according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a top assembly drawing of a unitary plastic sheet which it can be folded inward to form side panels 11 diagonal to back panel 10.
FIG. 6 is a front assembly drawings of the unitary plastic sheet of FIG. 5.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 7 is a front assembly drawing of an exemplary divider 13 used in the embodiment of FIGS. 4-6.
The present invention is a dispenser for sterile surgical gloves having a generally rectangular shape. FIGS. 1-3 are, respectively, side perspective, front, and back views of a sterile surgical glove dispenser according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
The dispenser includes two generally rectangular substantially rigid side panel sections 11, as well as a top and bottom panel section 21, all joined to a conforming back panel section 10. The panel sections 11, 10 and 21 are adjacent and joined, one to another, the side 11, and top and bottom rigid panel sections 21 projecting forward to form an enclosure 12, having an open exposure opposite said back panel section 10. The open exposure is preferably of rectangular shape, having dimensions of approximately 24 inches by 6 inches, and is bordered by perimeter flanges 14 protruding inward along the sides of the open exposure, along the forward edges of said side panels 11. One or two pair of hangar holes 17 are formed through the back panel section 10 to allow hanging on a wall, if desired.
A plurality of dividers 13 extend between the two opposite side panels 11 of the enclosure 12 adjacent to the perimeter flanges 14, and extending toward the back panel 10, in order to segregate the sterile surgical gloves into compartments.
The enclosure 12 may be constructed from various pattern designs and the dividers 13 may be positioned within the enclosure 12 by a variety of fastening devices, as will be described. A preferred construction pattern inclusive of fastening means is as illustrated in FIG. 4, wherein the back 10 and side panels 11 are integrally molded of a single sheet of acrylic, or another suitable plastic, with a series of slots 38 in each of the back 10 and side panel 11 sections to capture the dividers 13. The sheet is formed or scored with hinges running from top to bottom by which the unitary plastic sheet can be folded inward to delineate the back 10 and side panels 11.
FIGS. 5 and 6 are front and top assembly drawings of the unitary plastic sheet (post-mold) inclusive of the integrally-formed pair of parallel 90 degree notches 29 running from top to bottom by which it can be folded inward to bring the side panels 11 diagonal to the back 10 panel. In addition, a pair of opposing slots 31 are formed from top to bottom in the unitary plastic sheet for insertion of plastic strips (not shown) which serve as the perimeter flanges 14. Alternatively, the slots 31 may also be 90 degree notches running from top to bottom to allow inward folding to form the perimeter flanges 14, which are then bonded at a 90 degree angle. The integrally molded plastic sheet is also formed with a series of slots 38 in each of the back 10 and side panel 11 sections to capture the dividers 13, as will be described. Exemplary dimensions (in inches) are shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 for reference.
An exemplary divider 13 is shown in FIG. 7, which in this embodiment may also serve as both top and bottom panel 13 (as in FIG. 1) as well. Divider 13 may also be molded from acrylic, or another suitable plastic as shown, with a plurality of tabs 34 formed along the back and sides to fit into the slots 38 formed in the back panel 10 and the opposite side panels 11, such that the dividers 13 are secured therein. The dividers 13 are also formed with frontal notches 16 to facilitate withdrawal of the gloves. The dividers 13 may be snapped into and held in place by inserting the tabs 34 into the slots 38 formed in the back panel 10 and the opposite side panels 11, such that the notch 16 faces away from the back panel 10.
Alternatively, the back 10, side 11, and top/bottom panels 21 may be integrally molded in closed form to form enclosure 12, and the slots 38 can be eliminated by integrally molding, heat-welding, bonding or otherwise attaching dividers 13 inside the enclosure 12.
Returning to FIGS. 1-3, the open notches 16 of dividers 13 are located proximate to the open exposure, to facilitate grasping of a package 19 of sterile gloves, as shown in FIG. 1. The dividers 13 divide the enclosure into a plurality of separate compartments, which communicate with the open exposure. It is intended that packages 19 of sterile gloves be placed within the compartments to be used as needed in rendering medical care. It is preferred that each compartment be sized to receive and hold an adequate supply of one particular size of glove, as shown in FIG. 1, and that the number of compartments be selected to match the number of separate sizes or types of gloves normally kept for use by medical care providers. In the illustrated embodiment, this includes seven compartments for the following sizes and half sizes; 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, and 9. As described above, typical packages 19 of sterile gloves come in a pouch having a generally rectangular front and back. It is intended that the packages 19 of gloves are to be stacked and placed in said compartments with the fronts and backs of the packages parallel to said dividers 13.
Opposing side flanges 14 are attached to the opposing side panels 11 along a portion of the perimeter rim (e.g., inside the notches 31 of FIG. 5) and obstruct the margins of the open exposure for retaining the packages 19 of sterile gloves within the enclosure 12. In the preferred embodiment, the flanges 14 protrude inwardly into the open exposure, from opposite sides 11, across all of the compartments. This prevents unwanted packages 19 of sterile gloves from being inadvertently removed and yet does not restrict access, through the notch 16 of the dividers 13, for grasping one selected package 19 of sterile gloves.
One skilled in the art will understand that the enclosure 12 may be constructed from various other pattern designs, such as by discrete panels of plastic, joined by adhesive, heat-welding, screws or other fasteners. The dividers 13 may be positioned within the enclosure 12 by inner guide rails or shelf supports (rather than tabs 34), and/or may be fixed in place with other known fasteners or adhesive.
As seen in FIG. 1, labels 15 preferably of the peel-and-stick (self-adhesive) variety are provided with markings indicating glove sizes from 6 to 9 (or other half sizes as desired). In addition, each unit is color-coded to match the color codes of the particular type of glove being dispensed therefrom, such as Nitrile, latex, powdered and non-powdered, etc. This way, multiple dispensers according to the present invention may be employed (stacked or side-by-side) to dispense multiple types of gloves, with each type of glove dispenser being readily identifiable by color code. Alternatively, labels 15 may be provided in various colors so that glove sizes and types may be identified according to a color coding key according to the preference of the user.
It is intended that the enclosure 12 may be positioned so that it rests on any of its side, top or bottom panels 11, so that the longer dimension of the enclosure 12 is in either a vertical or an horizontal orientation. The enclosure 12 is shown in the vertical orientation in FIG's 1-3. The labels 15 indicating glove sizes may be attached in either vertical or horizontal orientation to match that of the dispenser.
Alternatively, it is possible to mount the enclosure 12 on any vertical wall via hangar holes 17, again so that the longer dimension of the enclosure 12 is in either a vertical or an horizontal orientation. The hangar holes 17 facilitate wall mounting of the dispenser, in order to save space for other supplies and equipment. The version of the invention depicted in FIG. 3 shows four generally circular mounting holes 17 located proximate to the corners of the back 10 with each of the mounting holes 17 having two integral slots extending away from a central aperture, the slots being perpendicular to each other. It is intended that two or more fasteners, such as screws, be driven into a wall in appropriate positions to receive the screw heads within two or more of the mounting holes 17 and such that the dispenser may be moved parallel to the wall a distance so that the screw shafts pass into the slots to retain the dispenser in position depending from the screws. The screws may be positioned so that the dispenser may be wall mounted in vertical or horizontal orientation, at the preference of the user.
Packages 19 of sterile gloves may be sorted and stacked by size or type. A stack of like size or type of gloves may be oriented parallel with said dividers 13 and pushed into the compartment matching the glove size or type, such that the packages 19 bend to allow passage between said flanges 14 and into the compartment. Once inside the compartment, resilience causes the packages 19 to resume a rectangular shape and the flanges 14 stop the packages 19 from sliding out of the compartment. Each compartment may be stocked with a supply of sterile gloves in this fashion, without the need for manipulating any latch or closure mechanism.
After stocking the dispenser, a nursing assistant can readily identify the appropriate size or type of sterile gloves by viewing the labels marking the compartments. A package 19 of sterile gloves, within a compartment, may then be grasped, through a notch 16 in a divider 13, and pulled out through the open exposure, bending the package 19 to allow passage between the flanges 14. The underlying package 19 of gloves, within the compartment, is moved forward by frictional force but the flanges 14 stop this and other unwanted packages 19 of gloves from passing. The other packages 19 of gloves remain stacked in the compartment.
Having now fully set forth the preferred embodiment and certain modifications of the concept underlying the present invention, various other embodiments as well as certain variations and modifications of the embodiments herein shown and described will obviously occur to those skilled in the art upon becoming familiar with said underlying concept. It is to be understood, therefore, that the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically set forth in the appended claims.