News Column

Patent Application Titled "Stethescope Disposable Covers" Published Online

May 27, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Life Science Weekly -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by NewsRx journalists, a patent application by the inventors Fishberger, Kenneth I. (Setauket, NY); Schwartzberg, David M. (East Setauket, NY), filed on January 15, 2014, was made available online on May 15, 2014 (see also Patents).

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a cover for the head and diaphragm of a stethoscope and a system for storing and dispensing covers for stethoscopes.

"A stethoscope is an acoustic medical device typically used by a physician or medical care provider to monitor sounds in a patient's organs and/or pathways (respiratory, cardiac, arterial, etc.). Stethoscopes typically include a chest piece for placement against the patient for sensing relatively high frequency sound, an air-filled hollow tube to transmit the sound from the chest piece, and ear tubes to receive the sound from the air-filled hollow tube and transmit the sound via ear tips to the physician or medical care provider. The chest piece is generally known to include a head and a diaphragm which is the part of the chest piece placed against the patient. When the diaphragm is placed on the patient, bodily sounds vibrate the diaphragm creating acoustic pressure sound waves which travel up the air-filled hollow tube and ear tubes to the listener's ears. The physician or medical care provider may then be better able to diagnose a condition or whether the patient's organs or pathways are functioning normally.

"In use, stethoscopes and in particular the head and diaphragm of a stethoscope can easily be contaminated with bacteria and other contaminants as stethoscopes are typically used on several patients within an hour. Physicians or medical care providers in a hospital setting see about 20-30 patients an hour including neonatal and pediatric patients, surgery patients, cancer and infectious disease patients and examine these patients using the same stethoscope. Medical providers typically employ a stethoscope on most of the patients they see in a hospital setting and anywhere between 6-12 patients per hour in an office setting. Transmission of bacterial infections among patients, particularly in a hospital setting, has become a huge concern especially in view of the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of staphylococcal infections and other resistant strains of bacteria, Viruses, and Fungal infections. Examples of resistant strains of bacteria include but are limited to, vancomycin resistant enterococcus and clostridium dificile; Viruses--Hepatitis B and C; and Fungal infections such as Aspergillosis, Candida. Accordingly, the use of protective covers for stethoscopes has become increasingly important.

"Protective covers for stethoscopes are well known. Typical covers include a thin sheet of plastic having an adhesive backing which can be applied over the diaphragm of a stethoscope before use on each new patient. After use, the cover is typically removed and discarded. These covers can function adequately, however, too often do problems arise with the use of such covers. Such problems include the cover falling off the stethoscope during application, the cover not fitting with an air-tight seal on the diaphragm during application, poor acoustic transmission and the transmission of microorganisms, fluids or other contaminants to the head of the stethoscope and in some cases, the diaphragm of the stethoscope. Most often the design is cumbersome and takes too much time to deploy

"Accordingly, a need exists for a cover for the head and diaphragm of a stethoscope that will securely fit onto the head and diaphragm, can be easily applied to the diaphragm to form a substantially air-tight seal without any air bubbles or wrinkling of the cover, is acoustically transmissive and protects against the transmission of microorganisms and fluids. It is imperative that the stethoscope cover be designed so that it is easy and quick to deploy since the time that a medical provider has with a patient is limited. Further, there is a need for an inexpensive system for efficiently dispensing covers for physicians and medical care providers."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, NewsRx editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "New covers for stethoscopes that securely fit onto the head and diaphragm of a stethoscope, can be quickly adhered to stethoscopes with a substantially air-tight seal without any air bubbles or wrinkling of the cover, prevent cross-contamination from patient to patient and are acoustically transmissive are provided. One embodiment of a cover for a stethoscope having a head and a diaphragm provides for a cover including a first region having first and second sides, and a second region configured to be continuous with the first region and including a crimpable material to form-fit around at least the head of the stethoscope so as to cover the head of the stethoscope from any contamination. The first region is acoustically transmissive and substantially impermeable to microorganisms and fluids. The first side of the first region includes an adherent material for removably adhering the first region to the diaphragm of the stethoscope. The second side of the first region includes an antimicrobial layer having an antimicrobial substance that can neutralize or destroy microbes disposed thereon as well as at a site on a patient where the diaphragm is applied. The antimicrobial substance can be at least partially removable so that at least a portion of the antimicrobial substance is left behind as the cover is removed from the stethoscope for disposal. The first region can further include at least one tab extending outwardly having a first side opposite the first side of the first region that includes an adherent material and is configured to wrap around at least a portion of the head of the stethoscope to further secure the cover to the stethoscope. In some embodiments, the first region has a thickness in the range of from about 0.1 mm to about 0.4 mm.

"In another embodiment of a cover for a stethoscope having a head and a diaphragm, a cover is provided including a first layer including an adherent material for removably adhering the cover to the diaphragm and the head of the stethoscope, and a second layer including a crimpable material to form-fit the cover around at least the diaphragm and the head of the stethoscope so as to form a protective barrier between a patient and the stethoscope. The first and second layers are acoustically transmissive and substantially impermeable to microorganisms and fluids. The first layer and/or second layer can further include an antimicrobial substance that can neutralize or destroy microbes disposed therein. In some embodiments, the first layer has a thickness in the range of from about 0.1 mm to about 0.4 mm.

"A system for storing and dispensing at least one cover for a stethoscope having a head and a diaphragm is also provided. The system includes an enclosure having at least one opening and a plurality of covers removably attached to the enclosure. The covers include a first region having first and second sides, and a second region configured to be continuous with the first region and including a crimpable material to form-fit around at least the head of the stethoscope and protect against any contamination. The first region is acoustically transmissive and substantially impermeable to microorganisms and fluids. The first side of the first region includes an adherent material for removably adhering the first region to the diaphragm of the stethoscope. The second side of the first region includes an antimicrobial layer having an antimicrobial substance that can neutralize or destroy microbes disposed thereon. The enclosure can further include an antimicrobial ultraviolet light source and/or a container for catching the backing after a stethoscope cover is removed from the backing.

"In some embodiments, the system further includes a bracket to mount the enclosure on a wall and a port for replenishing stethoscope covers configured to receive a plurality of stethoscope covers. The port can further include a roller mechanism configured to hold a plurality of stethoscope covers removably disposed on a releasable backing and wound about a roller so that as a stethoscope cover is dispensed from the backing the roller advances to expose the next available stethoscope cover.

"In various embodiments, the cover forms a substantially air-tight seal with the diaphragm without any air bubbles or wrinkling when the cover is removably adhered to the diaphragm. In some embodiments, the cover can be shaped as a circle, rectangle, octagon, trapezoid, triangle, square or other polygon that is greater than the size of the head of the stethoscope.

"In various embodiments, the adherent material includes one or more of a cellophane, vinyl, acetate, polyethylene acrylic, butyl rubber, ethylene-vinyl acetate, natural rubber, a nitrile, silicone rubber, a styrene block copolymer, a vinyl ether and a tackifier. In some embodiments, the adherent material can further include an antimicrobial and/or antiseptic material.

"In various embodiments, the crimpable material includes one or more of polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, low density polyethylene, linear low density polyethylene, polyisobutene, poly[ethylene-vinylacetate] copolymer and lightweight aluminum foil. In some embodiments, the crimpable material can further include an adhesive material so as to enhance adhesion of the crimpable material to itself so as to secure the cover to the stethoscope.

"Additional features and advantages of various embodiments will be set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of various embodiments. The objectives and other advantages of various embodiments will be realized and attained by means of the elements and combinations particularly pointed out in the description and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"In part, other aspects, features, benefits and advantages of the embodiments will be apparent with regard to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cover adhered onto the diaphragm of a stethoscope according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a system for storing and dispensing stethoscope covers;

"FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the storing and dispensing system of FIG. 2 with stethoscope covers disposed therein;

"FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the stethoscope covers disposed in the system shown in FIG. 3;

"FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the system of FIG. 2 in an unopened state;

"FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a system used for storing and dispensing stethoscope covers, mounted in a vertical configuration according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

"FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of the vertically mounted system of FIG. 6;

"FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a cover for a stethoscope according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

"FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the cover of FIG. 8 as adhered onto the diaphragm and head of a stethoscope.

"It is to be understood that the figures are not drawn to scale. Further, the relation between objects in a figure may not be to scale, and may in fact have a reverse relationship as to size. The figures are intended to bring understanding and clarity to the structure of each object shown, and thus, some features may be exaggerated in order to illustrate a specific feature of a structure."

For more information, see this patent application: Fishberger, Kenneth I.; Schwartzberg, David M. Stethescope Disposable Covers. Filed January 15, 2014 and posted May 15, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=5935&p=119&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140508.PD.&OS=PD/20140508&RS=PD/20140508

Keywords for this news article include: Alkenes, Patents, Hospital, Polyenes, Hydrocarbons, Polyethylenes, Organic Chemicals.

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Source: Life Science Weekly


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