US 3255894 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 14, 1966 V N H D ET AL 3,255,894
PILL AND CAPSULE COUNTING TRAY AND FINGER SPATULA Filed April 14, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Ambrose B. VanHanc/e/ Donald H. Pe ferson l N VEN TOR S June 14, 1966 VAN HANDEL ETAL PILL AND CAPSULE COUNTING TRAY AND FINGER SPATULA 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed April 14, 1964 Ambrose B. Van Handel Donald H Pefersan IN VENTORS United States Patent The present invention generally relates to a device for use by pharmacists in computing medical prescriptions and more particularly a new and novel pill and capsule counting tray and finger spatula combined therewith to provide a most practical, time-saving, and sanitary device for hygienically counting and dispensing of prescription pills and capsules.
An object of the present invention is to provide a pill and capsule mounting tray with a finger spatula combined therewith including a tray having a continuous peripheral lip thereon in order to avoid spillage together with the tray being constructed of a pair of pivotal components which enables the pills after counting to be discharged into a receptacle area for pouring into a prescription bottle and for pouring overage back into a bulk container in an expeditious and time-saving manner.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a pill and capsule counting tray divided into two counting areas and two receptacle areas with each receptacle area having an orifice with a projecting lip around the bottom and side edges thereof for facilitating guiding of pills or capsules into a prescription container and also into a bulk container.
Still another feature of the invention is to provide a pill and capsule counting tray in accordance with the preceding object in which a cam lever is provided on each end of the tray sections whereby finger-pressure is applied, causing a simultaneous force reaction upon the tray sections enabling the tray sections to be pivoted downwardly at their adjoining edges for deposit of counted pills or capsules and overage pills or capsules into the respective receptacle areas.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a'pill counting tray in accordance with the preceding objects having a novel handle structure thereon to enable handling of the tray without contact with the pills or capsules with one of the handles having a slot-like opening thereinfor detachably receiving a finger spatula.
Still another feature of the invention is to provide a finger attached spatula having a tapered socket with slots therein for enabling the spatula to be employed with substantially any size finger. The spatula is provided with a blade having a bottom edge in angular relation to the finger socket so that the bottom edge will be disposed generally parallel to a horizontal surface when the finger is employed in counting pills or capsulles.
Yet another important object of the present invention is to provide a pill and capsule counting tray with attached finger spatula which is quite simple in construction, easy to use, extremely efficient and relatively inexpensive to manufacture.
These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter'described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the pill and capsule counting tray and finger spatula of the present invention;
FIGURE 2 is a longitudinal, sectional view taken substantially upon a plane passing along section line 2-2 of FIGURE 1 illustrating further structural details of the invention;
FIGURE 3 is a transverse, sectional view taken substantially upon a plane passing along section line 3-3 of FIGURE 1 illustrating further structural details thereof;
FIGURE 4 is a perspective View illustrating the first step in the operational procedure when using the present invention and illustrating tablets or capsules being poured from a bulk container onto the counting tray;
FIGURE 5 is a perspective view of the second step in the operational procedure in which the tablets are counted and separated over a low inclined central raised divider;
FIGURE 6 is a perspective view of the next step in the operational procedure in which the sections of the counting trays are tilted inwardly into downwardly inclined position for discharging the counted pills as well as the overage pills or tablets into a receptacle;
FIGURE 7 is a perspective view of the invention illustrating the manner in which the counted pills are discharged into a prescription container;
FIGURE 8 is a perspective view of the present invention illustrating the manner in which the average is returned to the bulk container;
FIGURE 9 is a perspective view of another type of spatula constructed to cooperate with the pill and capsule counting tray of the present invention; and
FIGURE 10 is a detailed view illustrating the manner of association of the spatula with the tray.
Referring now specifically to the drawings, the numeral 10 generally designates the pill and capsula counting tray of the present invention with a finger attached spatula 12 being attached thereto in a novel manner.
The pill and capsule counting tray 10 includes a pair of generally U-sh-aped or V-shaped receptacle portions 14 and 16 which are separated by a vertical partition wall 18 and which includes end walls 20 and 22. The end wall 20 is provided with a discharge orifice 24 and the end wall 22 is provided with a discharge orifice 26 with the discharge orifices 24 and 26 being substantially triangular in configuration with radius corners and provided with a projecting lip 28 along the bottom and sides of the triangular orifice opening which forms somewhat of a funnel or ledge for engagement with a prescription bottle or bulk container for facilitating the guiding of the pills or capsules from the respective receptacleareas 14 and 16. The bottoms of the receptacle portions 14 and 16 are upwardly and smoothly sloped as at 30 where they merge into the end walls 20 and 22 respectively as illustrated in FIGURES 2 and 3. The receptacle areas 14 and 16 each include upwardly inclined walls 32 and 34 which terminate in fiat horizontal walls 36 and 38 which are integral with vertical side walls 40 which at the corners thereof extend downwardly and define legs 42 having a cushioning foot 44 on the lower edge thereof for engaging a supporting surface. A laterally extending handle 46 is provided generally as an extension of the central portion of the horizontal portions 36 and 38 with each handle 46 having a longitudinal enlargement 48 along the outer edge thereof to facilitate gripping of the handle.
The end walls 20 and 22 each include a centrally disposed upwardly projecting mounting portion 50 and 52 each of which includes tapered sockets or recesses 54 therein forming hinge axes for a pair of pivotal trays 56 and 58. Each of the trays 56 and 58 is provided with an upstanding outer side wall 60 and upstanding end wall 62 forming a continuous lip for retaining pills or capsules on the trays 56 and 58. The end Walls 62 of each tray is provided with a conical projection or detent 64 receiving in the sockets 54 thus pivotally supporting the trays 56 and 58 on the end walls 62 respectively for pivotal movement from a generally horizontal position as illustrated in FIGURE 3 to a generally vertical position. In the horizontal position, the trays 56 and 58 have abutting Patented June 14, 1966 3 or adjacent edges 68 whereas the edges 68 move away from each other when the trays 56 and 58 are pivoted to their inclined positions for discharging pills or capsules into the receptacles 14 and 16.
As illustrated in FIGURE 1, the tray 56 has the end wall thereof provided with an upstanding enlargement 70 with an inclined serrated edge 72 and a rounded inner corner 76 which overlies and engages the adjacent surface of the opposite tray 58. The other end of the tray 58 is provided with a similar enlargement 78 having an inclined serrated edge 80 and a rounded inner edge associated with the adjacent surface of the tray 56 in the same manner as discussed in connection with the enlargement 70. The serrated edges 72 and 80 form thumb engaging surfaces whereby the projections 70 and 78 respectively may be depressed thereby pivoting the trays 56 and 58 respectively about the pivotal axes defined by the hinge pins 64. The rounded corner 76 of the projection 70 and a similar rounded corner on the projection 78 will cause the trays 56 and 58 to pivot downwardly to an inclined position when pressure is exerted on either or both of the serrated edges 72 and 80. As illustrated, the trays 56 and 58 and the lips 60 and 62 are constructed so that they are slightly spaced from the horizontal members 36 and 38 respectively and engage the surfaces thereof in the manner illustrated in FIGURE 3. Since the end flanges 62 are disposed inwardly slightly and since they are inwardly of the projections 50 and 52, a slight ledge 82 is left on the tray at the ends thereof.-
The trays 56 and 58 have a low inclined raised central rib 84 thereon which is in alignment with an upper edge 86 of the partition 18 which extends through a slot defined in the trays 56 and 58 as designated by numeral 88 thereby providing a transverse rib over which the counted pills or capsules may be separated from the uncounted pills or capsules.
Attached to one of the handles 46 is a finger spatula 12 including a tubular member 90 which is tapered outwardly and provided with an outwardly flared end portion 92. The inner end of the tubular member 90 is provided with a closure 94 in the form of a bottom plate and a pair of diametrically opposed longitudinal slots 96 extends from the flared end 92 to the closure bottom plate 94 with the inner ends of the slots 96 terminating in peripherally extending slot portions 98 thus forming the tubular member into two sections having a certain degree of resilient flexibility so that the tubular member can adapt itself to receiving different size fingers and so that the tubular member 90 will resiliently secure itself on the finger for manipulation during the counting operation as set forth hereinafter.
Projecting downwardly from the bottom of the tubular member 90 is a counting blade 100 having a flat terminal end surface 102 which is orientated in acute angular relation to the longitudinal axis of the tubular member 90 so that it will be in substantially a horizontal position when the hand is in a normal position so that the counting operation could be conducted by a finger movement or a hand movement or a combination of both. One edge of the tubular member 90 is provided with an extension 104 overlying and engaging a portion of the forward edge of the blades 100 for reinforcing the same and the rear edge of the blade is provided with a notch 106 therein for reception of a portion of the edge of a slot-like opening 108 formed in the handle by which the finger spatula is secured to the handle. The blade 100 in inserted down through the slot 108 and then the spatula is moved laterally outwardly to engage the notch 106 with the edge of the opening 108 so that the finger spatula may then be disconnected from the tubular socket 90. This also will facilitate engagement of the finger with the socket 90 and provide a secure fastening assembly for retaining the finger spatula in position during handling of the counting tray.
In using the present invention, pills or capsules 110 are poured onto the trays 56 and 58 from a bulk container 112 in the conventional manner as illustrated in FIGURE 4. The fore-finger 114 on the hand 116 is then inserted into the tubular member of the finger spatula and the finger spatula removed from the slotted handle 46 and the finger 114 and hand 116 is then manipulated in a flexing manner with the edge 102 parallel to the surfaces of the trays 56 and 58 for moving the tablets, pills or capsules across the transverse rib defined on the trays thuscounting out a predetermined number of pills 110 on one side of the rib and leaving any overage of pills or capsules on the other side thereof.
After the requisite number of pills or capsules 110 have been counted, the thumb 118 is engaged with one of the inclined surfaces 72 or 80 and pushed downwardly whereby the cam lever effect of the members 70 and 78 will tilt the trays 56 and 58 downwardly at the inner edges thereof as illustrated in FIGURE 6 thereby dumping the pills or capsules 110 into the respective receptacle areas 14 and 16. The thumb is then released and a handle 46 is grasped and the counting tray assembly 10 is pivoted in the manner illustrated in FIGURE 7 to dispense the counted capsules or pills 110 in a prescription bottle 120 through the orifice 26 with the ledge or lip 28 thereon engaging the neck of the prescription bottle 120 in a manner to facilitate guiding movement of the pills or capsules 110 into the prescription bottle 120. After the counted capsules have been poured into the prescription bottle, the bulk container 112 is grasped and held in alignment with the other opening or orifice 24 to dispense the overage pills or capsules 110 back into the bulk container 112 by tilting the counting tray 10 in an opposite direc tion thereby returning all of the pills or capsules to the bulk container. Thereafter, the finger spatula is returned to its position on the slotted handle 46 and the entire counting operation has been completed while maintaining hygienic and sterile conditions in that the fingers have actually not contacted the pills or capsules or the tray surfaces and the only portion of the finger spatula which engages the pills or capsules has not come into contact with any contaminating surface.
It is pointed out that the low centrally disposed inclined rib 84 acts as a projected divider when the trays 56 and 58 are tilted thereby preventing the prescribed count or overage quantity from becoming mixed or falling into one or the other individual receptacle areas as the pills or capsules are sliding down the inclined trays.
The triangular orifice has certain advantages of operation in that large capsules and tablets would slide more freely through a triangular opening and would not tend to block up as would occur in the event a circular opening or orifice was employed. Also, large quantities of smaller capsules or tablets would pour more freely through the triangular opening.
The present invention is preferably constructed of durable plastic material in which the counting tray sections are transparent and the collector receptacle areas are of solid color. The finger spatula may also be con structed of plastic and may be of a metallized color. The device is especially useful in counting various pills, tablets or capsules in which the handles prevent contact of the fingers with the working area of the dispenser thereby providing maximum hygienic protection. The assembly is symmetrically constructed so that it may be eflectively used in either the right or left hand. Actually only one hand is required to operate the device and pouring the pills or capsules into the containers is done with great simplicity through normal operating attitude rather than through difiioult and unnatural attitudes. The dimensions of the various components may vary in accordance with good engineering practices which enable the device to be constructed inexpensively while maintaining a high degree of quality.
FIGURES 9 and 10 illustrate a special spatula 122 for use with the tray without interference from the outer side wall 60 as illustrated in FIGURE 10. The spatula 122 includes a blade-like structure 124 which is slightly tapered from the back edge to a rat-her thin but straight edge 126 which will engage the top surface of a tray section 56 or 58. Projecting from the blade 124 is a handle 128 that is rigidly fixed with and interval with the blade 124 at the longitudinal edge thereof remote from the straight edge 126. The blade 124 also increases in width from the-tip end towards the handle and the handle 128 generally forms a continuation of the inclined upper edge' of the blade. The edge of the blade at the handle end 128 has a vertical edge 130 that is perpendicular to the straight edge 126 and the corner thereof may be slightly raised so that it will fit against the inner surface of the side wall 60 as illustrated in FIGURE with the fiat edge 126 engaging the top surface of the tray sections 56 or 58 thereby assuring that any capsules or pills 110 located in the corner edges of the tray sections will be effectively engaged by the spatula. The particular construction of the spatula enables the blade to fit vertically on the tray and to fit against the rim so that no pills or capsules can be in such a position that they could not be contacted with the blade of the spatula. The particular handle structure 128 includes longitudinal grooved central portions 132 and tapered pyramidal end portions 134 as illustrated in FIGURES 9 and 10 and the handle is so orientated in relationship to the vertical position of the blade when on the tray that it will clear the rim of the tray and also the handle is constructed to conveniently fit the hand for normal counting position.
The spatula 122 is preferably constructed of one piece of plastic material so that it will not scratch the tray and the monolithic construction enables the spatula to be constructed of an attractive material comparable with the construction of the tray. As is the case with the tray all corners of the spatula are radius to eliminate sharp corners and, of course; the spatula 122 while being especially constructed for use with said tray could also be used for counting pills on any planar surface.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention as claimed.
What is claimed as new is as follows:
1. A pill and capsule counting tray assembly comprising a receptacle divided into a pair of collection areas by a partition wall, a pair of trays extending into overlying relation to the collection areas and normally forming a closure therefor on which pills and capsules may be poured for counting, said trays having adjacent edges orientated closely adjacent each other when the trays are orientated in overlying relation to the collection areas, means pivotally mounting the trays to the receptacle for movement of the adjacent edges downwardly into inclined relation for dumping pills or capsules thereon into the collection areas,-means separating the trays into an area for counted pills or capsules and an area for uncounted pills and capsules whereby the counted pills and capsules may be dumped into the collection area there under while at the same time the uncounted pills or capsules are dumped into an area thereunder for maintaining the counted pills and capsules separated from the uncounted pills and capsules, and discharge means in the outer end of each collection area for discharging counted pills and capsules into a prescription container and discharge of the uncounted pills and capsules into a bulk container.
2. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein each of said trays includes an upstanding projection in the inner edge thereof with the projection having a pressure exerting area thereon in spaced relation to the pivotal axis of the tray whereby the trays may be inclined to their dumping position.
3. The structure as defined .in' claim 2 wherein said trays have rounded inner corners interengaging with the opposite tray thereby moving the trays simultaneously upon presure being exerted on one pressure exerting area.
4. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein each of said trays is provided with an upstanding lip around three sides thereof for retaining pills and capsules thereon.
5. The structure as defined in claim 4 wherein said means for separating the trays into two areas includes a transverse low inclined central raised rib thereon over which pills or capsules may be moved but which normally will retain the counted pills and capsules from the uncounted pills and capsules.
6. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said means in each collection area for discharging pills and capsules therein includes an opening in each end wall of the receptacle, and a projecting lip along the bottom portion and sides of each opening extending outwardly of the end of the receptacle for forming a pouring spout for facilitating entry of pills and capsules into containers.
7. The structure as defined in claim 6 wherein the bottom of the end portions of the receptacle are fromed smoothly upwardly and merge with the bottom portion of the openings for eliminating the ledges on which pills or capsules could become lodged.
8. The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein said receptacle is provided with laterally extending handles on the side edges thereof.
9. The structure as defined in claim 8 wherein one of said handles is provided with a slot therein, and a finger spatula detachably mounted in said slot for receiving a finger and being mounted on the finger for use in moving pills and capsules along the surfaces of the counting trays.
10. The structure as defined in claim 9 wherein said finger spatula includes a tubular tapered socket having longitudinal slots therein for frictionally and resiliently engaging a finger of the person using the device, said socket including a blade extending therefrom with the plane of the blade forming an extension of the longitudi nal aixs of the socket, said blade terminating in an edge in acute angular relation to the longitudinal axis of the socket whereby the edge of the blade will generally be horizontally disposed when the hand and finger on which the finger spatula is mounted is orientated in a normal operating condition so that the counting operation may be carried out by flexing the finger, the hand or arm, or any combination.
11. The structure as defined in claim 10 wherein said blade includes a notch in one edge thereof whereby the blade may be inserted down through the slot in the handle and then moved outwardly for interlocking the notch with the edge of the slot thereby securing the finger spatula on the receptacle.
12. The structure as defined in claim 1 together with a counting spatula including a blade having a flat edge adapted to engage the upper surface of the trays and the vertical end edge adapted to engage vertical rims formed on the trays.
13. A device for counting pills or the like comprising a receptacle divided into a pair for collection areas by partition forming means, a tray extending into overlying relation to the collection areas and normally forming a closure therefor on which pills may be placed for counting, means pivotally mounting the tray on the receptacle for movement of one edge thereof downwardly into inclined relation for dumping pills thereon into the collection areas, means separating the tray into an area for counted pills and an area for uncounted. pills whereby the counted pills may be dumped into the collection area thereunder while at the same time the uncounted pills are dumped into a collection area thereunder for maintaining the counted pills separated from the uncounted pills, and discharge means in each collection area for discharg- 7 8 ing counted pills into a prescription container and dis- 2,507,792 5/1950 King 214-1 charging uncounted pills into a bulk container. 2,717,799 9/1955 Jones 29425 2,863,572 12/1958 Bcthard 214-1 References Cited y the Examiner 2,93 5,354 5/1960 Chapman 294 25 UNITED STATES PATENTS 5 3,202,345 7/1965 Kuehl et a1. 2321 MARVIN A. CHAMPION, Primary Examiner. 2,067,406 1/1937 McDonald 220-20.5