BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to identification bracelets and more particularly to temporary identification bracelets for use in environments in which the bracelets are applied by people other than the wearer and are exposed to moisture and common solvents.
3. Description of Related Art
Identification bracelets are used in many situations where subjects require short-term identification. Examples of the use of identification bracelets include identification of participants at meetings, of guests in a resort, of passengers in transportation, and particularly patients in hospitals or other institutions. In the hospital setting, proper identification is particularly important: it prevents patients from receiving the wrong medication or medical procedure and it allows hospital administration to track the usage of hospital facilities by a patient for billing purposes.
The hospital environment places extraordinary demands on identification bracelets:
They need to be produced where they are used, namely at the nurses' stations;
They often need to carry photographs and barcodes, both of which require high resolution to be useful;
Both the bracelet and whatever is written or printed on it must be resistant to water and other common solvents;
The bracelet must be comfortable for the patient to wear;
The bracelet must be sanitary;
In many situations, the bracelet must be strong enough to withstand deliberate attempts by its wearer to remove it; and
The bracelet must be easy for the hospital personnel to make and apply.
Two main types of identification bracelets are presently used in hospitals and related institutions. The first type are bracelets that use paper protected by a plastic sleeves or an adhesive plastic film to make a band that is as printable as paper but has greater tear resistance and resistance to environmental degradation. An example of prior art of this type can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,510,634 to Riley, which discloses a multiple computer generated multi-web moisture proof identification bracelet. The Riley patent discloses an adhesive backed transparent film layer to encapsulate the paper strip. Problems with the first type of bracelet include the following:
Film sleeves and adhesive backed films are difficult for hospital staff to handle. The strip of paper must first be printed or written upon. The strip is then inserted into the film sleeve, the sleeve is looped around the patient's wrist or ankle, and the ends of the bracelet are attached using a metal or plastic clasp or adhesive on the sleeve. When an adhesive backed laminate is used, the printed strip of material is placed on the adhesive backed film and the film is folded over the strip of material to encase the printed strip. A bracelet can then be formed in the same manner described above. Alternatively, the bracelet is first fitted to the patient and then encapsulated with the adhesive backed film.
The plastic sleeve or laminate is often not tight enough to protect any paper or print within from being destroyed when the bracelet is immersed in water.
Barcode readers can have difficulty reading barcodes through the film sleeve or laminate. The Riley patent solves this problem with a die cut window in the laminate for the barcode. The drawback of this feature is that the barcode is exposed to the environment and can therefore easily be destroyed.
Where the bracelets have barcodes, the paper must be printed with laser printers. “Wicking” of the water-based inks used in ink jet printers makes the barcodes unreadable.
The second type of identification bracelets are those made using a printable plastic strip. An example of this type of identification bracelet can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,641,048 to Schintz et al., which discloses a bracelet made of a strip of polyesterplastic. The strip is printable by a standard office laser printer. The strip has adhesive at both ends of its inner side and is made into a bracelet that fits closely to the patient's wrist or ankle as shown in FIG. 1: To form the bracelet from the strip of plastic 100, the end with the first adhesive attachment point 101 must be looped and pressed against the inner surface of the strip 103, creating an adhesive bond. The second adhesive contact point 102 is then looped over and pressed against the outer surface of the strip opposite 104. Problems with the second type of bracelet include:
The plastic strip must be printed by a laser printer and consequently cannot have a thickness beyond what a laser printer will accept. The Schintz patent discloses a 0.002 inch thick polyester film. A film of this thickness can be easily torn, either by accident or deliberately by its wearer, and can thus be easily removed by its wearer or lost. Stretching can further make the barcodes and other information unreadable.
The thin plastic used for the bracelet is also hard for hospital staff to handle, as can be seen from the foregoing description of how the Schintz band is applied. Moreover, the loop-back technique creates a space in the band where moisture or micro organisms can gather.
None of the bracelets presently being used has a good mechanism for making a close-fitting bracelet. Attachment mechanisms have included the following:
Metal or plastic clasps; the problem with these is that the clasps are separate from the bracelet and easily lost.
Adhesive attachment mechanisms; these generally simply attach the ends of the bracelet to each other. The bracelet fits closely only where the patient happens to be the same size as the bracelet. Schintz solves this problem, as described above, but at the cost of a difficult application process.
It is an object of the invention disclosed herein to provide an improved identification bracelet and thereby to overcome the foregoing difficulties of prior art identification bracelets.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The object of the invention is attained in one aspect by an identification bracelet that is made from a strip of material that may also be written upon with an ink pen or printed upon using a standard office printer. The invention further has an adhesive layer that is located on a single end of the strip of material opposite the surface that is printed or written upon.
In an additional aspect of the invention, the adhesive layer is made from a contact adhesive.
In an additional aspect of the invention, the adhesive layer is made from an adhesive that will not soften when exposed to heat from the wearer's body.
In an additional aspect of the invention, an identification band is formed by looping the end of the strip of material with the adhesive layer on the second surface over the first surface of the opposite end and pressing the adhesive end down to create an adhesive bond.
In another aspect of the invention, the identification bracelet has a tab on one end of the long side of the identification bracelet and the adhesive has been applied to the second surface of the tab in addition to the end of strip of material. To form a bracelet, a loop is created from the strip of material by placing the second surface of the adhesive end over the first surface of the opposite end of the strip of material. The ends are pressed together and an adhesive bond is created. The lateral tab is then folder over such that the adhesive layer on the second surface of each tab makes contact with the second surface of the opposite end of the strip of material, creating an additional adhesive bond.
In an additional aspect of the invention, the identification bracelet has two tabs on one end of the long sides of the identification bracelet and the adhesive has been applied to the end and the tabs on the second surface of the strip of material. To form a bracelet, a loop is created from the strip of material by placing the second surface of the adhesive end over the first surface of the opposite end of the strip of material. The ends are pressed together and an adhesive bond is created. The lateral tabs are then folded over such that the adhesive layer on the second surface of each tab makes contact with the second surface of the opposite end of the strip of material, creating an additional adhesive bond.
In an additional aspect of the invention, the bracelet is made from a material that after being written or printed upon by water soluble inks from a pen or ink-jet printer renders the writing or printing waterproof and resistant to removal by common solvents. In a preferred embodiment, this effect results from a coating on the strip of material.
In an additional aspect of the invention, the identification bracelet is made from a strip of material that is coated to accept high resolution ink jet printing. The print on the material is resistant to degradation caused by water, common solvents, cleaning agents, moisture, and heat. The material can be a cross laminated polyethylene film such as the oriented and cross laminated polyethylene film. An example of such a material is VALERON® produced by Valeron Strength Films of Houston Tex.
In-another aspect of the current invention, the identification bracelet is a secure identification bracelet. The secure identification bracelet is made from a strip of material that is of sufficient width and thickness to prevent the identification bracelet from being stretched or torn by the wearer of the secure identification bracelet. The secure identification bracelet has two tabs on a single end of the strip of material with an adhesive layer on the second surface of the end of the strip of material including the pair of tabs.
In an additional aspect of the current invention, the secure identification bracelet can resist stretching and tearing when a wearer of the bracelet applies up to 57 foot pounds of force on the secure identification bracelet. The strip of material has a minimum thickness of approximately 0.0125 inches and a minimum width of approximately 1 inch.
In another aspect, the invention is a business form. The business form is made up of a face ply of material into which one or more strips suitable for forming an identification bracelet have been die cut. The strip or strips have a print surface to receive the print from a standard office printer. The strip has a second surface with a contact adhesive placed on a single end. The business form also has liner ply that that is disposed against the face ply of material. The liner ply has an outer surface and an inner surface with a release coating to allow the face ply and the liner ply to be separated from each other.