US 3288327 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
J. C. CAHLlK Nov. 29, 1966 PACKAGING OF SURGICAL GAUZE SPONGES AND THE LIKE Filed April 14, 1965 8 O 2 Q M w w fl wgi w wm a s a z x w a U a a 1 1 1 Q Q 1 s m m m u m m m R. mm L WH A c c M J F'IG.3
ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,288,327 PACKAGING @F SURGICAL GAUZE SPONGES AND THE LIKE Jim C. Cahlik, Cleveiand, (lhio, assignor to Parke, Davis 81 Company, Detroit, Mich, a corporation of Michigan Filed Apr. 14, 1965, Ser. No. 448,179 6 Claims. ((31. 221-76) This invention relates to packaging and dispensing a plurality of discrete articles and in particular to a package containing discrete articles such as surgical dressings or the like arranged in a plurality of separated groups each consisting of a precounted number of the articles and ineluding means to facilitate successive removal of the articles individually and in groups from the package as required.
One form of surgical dressing presently in widespread use in surgical and related medical fields is a sponge commonly referred to as an X-ray sponge consisting of a piece of loosely woven cotton gauze, which for example is folded into a sixteen-ply pad four inches square and approximately one sixteenth of an inch in thickness when compressed. Large quantities of such gauze sponges are used in hospital surgical activities, but under strict inventory control involving meticulous hand counting procedures on the part of the operating room personnel to insure that all such sponges supplied to the surgeon are accurately accounted for at the completion of the operation. Hitherto it has been customary to commercially supply such sponges in packages of for example ten sponges each. The operating nurse would obtain a supply of these packages, tear them open, individually count out by hand the requisite number of sponges and place them on a sterilizing tray along with the surgical instruments for subsequent sterilization and delivery to the operating room for use in the scheduled operation. Due to the flimsy and folded nature of the gauze sponges, they are difficult to handle, dispense and count as presently packaged, and therefore the above procedure is more time consuming and costly and less reliable than is desired.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved package protectively enclosing a relatively large quantity of discrete articles such as gauze sponges or the like which facilitates accurate and rapid dispensing of individual and precounted groups of the articles therefrom.
Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of one preferred embodiment of a sealed package of the present invention containing gauze sponges arranged in discrete groups each containing a precounted number of sponges.
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the package of FIG. 1 with a portion of the side of the package broken away and with its upper end opened, illustrating the package after the two uppermost groups of sponges have been removed and with the third group in the process of being manually removed.
FIG. 3 is a side elevational View of the package of FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrating the same after all but the bottom group of sponges has been removed from the package, with this last group in the process of being removed.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the package corresponding to its condition in FIG. 2 and a portion thereof broken away.
Referring in more detail to the drawing, FIG. 1 illustrates a sealed package in accordance with the pres- Patented Nov. 29, 1966 "ice ent invention. Package 10 comprises a suitable container 12, such as a paper or plastic bag or cardboard box, which in the illustrated embodiment is square in cross section to closely conform to the configuration of the square sponges packaged therein. The top and bottom ends of bag 12 are closed by folding inwardly and adhesively sealing the end portions of the paper bag in a conventional manner. In the case of a cardboard container suitable flaps may be used to seal the ends.
Package 10 also includes a predetermined number of groups of discrete articles of known quantity per group, herein illustrated as ten groups numbered 14-32 inclusive each containing ten individual gauze sponges 34 (FIG. 2). Package 10 thus contains an exact, factory determined count of one hundred gauze sponges arranged in groups of ten stacked one upon another with the sponges laid fiat transverse to the lengthwise dimension of the package.
Package 10 also includes a length of flexible material such as string 36 or other suitable material which is factory assembled with sponges 34 in a zigzag fashion such that it extends in alternate opposite directions between adjacent groups 14, 16, etc. of the sponges. Thus starting with upper end 38 of the string 36 (as viewed in FIG. 1), the string extends in a plane centrally of the package (parallel to the plane of the drawing) first along the top sponge of group 14 toward the left side of bag 12, then downwardly between the left side of group 14 andthe adjacent wall of bag 12, then horizontally between groups 14 and 16 to the right side of bag 12, then downwardly between the right side of group 16 and the adjacent wall of bag 12, then horizontally between groups 16 and 18 to the left side of the bag, and so on in this Zigzag arrangement until the string reaches the bottom of the package. String 36 then extends under the bottom group 32 over to the left side thereof and then straight upwardly along the left side of bag 12, past at least the lowermost two groups 32 and 30, and terminating at an end 40 thereof which is disposed adjacent group 16. As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 4, the straight upwardly extending length of string 36, hereinafter referred to as a terminal portion 39, is preferably offset from the portions of string 36 lying adjacent the left sides of groups 18, 22, 26 and 28, as by angling the run 41 of the string beneath the bottommost group 32 (FIG. 4), so that portion 39 is held frictionally secured between the end edges of the sponges 34 and the left side of the bag 12.
The package 10 when assembled and sealed as described above and as shown in FIG. 1 provides a protective enclosure for the sponges suitable for shipment and storage. When a given quantity of gauze sponges 34 are required for an operation, the upper end of the package is opened by unfolding the folded over ends 42 and 43, thereby exposing the upper end 38 of string 36. Preferably the string is dyed a bright red or other contrasting color so that it is readily visible against the white gauze sponges. The upper end 38 of the string is then grasped and pulled upwardly so as to tilt or lift the first group 14 upwardly far enough to enable it to be grasped in the fingers and pulled from the package. This operation is illustrated in FIG. 2 with respect to the third group of sponges 18. Thus merely pulling on string 36 quickly separates an accurate precount of ten sponges 34 from the balance of the sponges in the package and permits the upwardly tilted group of sponges to be grasped easily without touching the successive sponges. The above string pulling operation is simply repeated as successive groups of articles are needed, successive operations finally emptying the container as illustrated in FIG. 3. If the scheduled surgical operation requires forty-six sponges, for example, the string is successively pulled to tilt upwardly for successive removal the first four groups 14, 16, 18 and 20 and the remaining six sponges required are all that need to be individually counted from the fifth group 28.
It is to be noted that as the groups of sponges are removed more of the terminal portion 39 of the string becomes exposed, but the string remains securely retained down to and including the bottom group 32 by the remaining groups of sponges frictionally clamping the portion 39 against the adjacent side wall of bag 12. The terminal portion 39 thus precludes the string from threading its way between the last two or three groups instead of the desired elevation of the same individually as in the previous operations. Due to this frictional retention feature the string may be assembled in package 10 without the need of an adhesive or other fastening means, although if desired terminal portion 39 may be glued to the side edge of the package prior to assembly of the same. In order to obtain reliable frictional retention of terminal end of the string the terminal portion 39 should extend generally parallel to the direction in which groups 14, 16, etc. are removable from the package, in this case upwardly along at least the two bottom groups 30 and 32 of sponges, and may of course extend most of the way to the top of the package substantially as shown. In addition, the transverse dimensions of bag 12 should be such that sponges 34 are placed under slight lateral compression when in assembled relation with the bag. Alternatively, the terminal end 39 of the string may be brought up alongside the left side of the bottom group 32 and then laid on top of the bottom group beneath group 30, or even wrapped around the bottom group 32, but these alternatives entail more expense in the manufacture of the package and hence the frictional side retention feature is preferred.
Sponges 34 may be readily dispensed from package 10 singly or in precounted groups successively via the upper opened end of the package, even to the last article, without reducing the protective capacity of bag 12. The sponges are preferably pre-assembled in a given quantity per group as determined by a machine count prior to assembly in the package, thereby reducing the chances for error in count, the amount of handling and the time involved in the count out procedure. These advantages apply to various types of articles adapted to be packaged in the manner of the invention, but they are particularly important and beneficial in the case of surgical gauze sponges which are dispensed, used and then re-called under strict inventory controls.
It is to be understood that the predetermined and precounted number of sponges per group can be varied as desired in the manufacture of package 10, but for ease of dispensing counted-out quantities it is preferred to use group of five or ten sponges. It is also to be understood that the flexible element 36 may comprise a piece of string, tape or the like, or a wrapper occupying the full width of bag 12 in applications where further protection of the undispensed articles remaining in the package is desired or necessary.
1. A package for the selective dispensing of a plurality ofgroups of discrete precounted articles comprising an enclosure, a plurality of groups of said articles contained in said enclosure, said enclosure having means at one end openable to expose the group of said articles closest to said one end for successive removal therethrough of said groups, said groups being arranged in layers in said package transversely to the direction of removal of said groups from the package via said one end, and a flexible length of material extending in a zigzag fashion within said package from adjacent said openable means alternately in opposite directions between said groups and having a terminal portion extending between the one of said groups furthest remote from said one end and the adjacent wall of the remote end of said package and thence between and in contact with the interior surface of one side of the package and the adjacent edges of the articles in said remote group.
2. The package as set forth in claim 1 wherein said articles are slightly laterally compressed about their periphcries by the side walls of said package and said terminal portion of said flexible length of material is frictionally clamped by and between said remote group and the adjacent side wall of said package.
3. The package as set forth in claim 2 wherein said terminal portion extends alongside at least the two of said groups closest said remote end of said package.
4. The package as set forth in claim 3 wherein said terminal portion extends along the interior surface of said side wall for a major portion of its extent generally parallel to the direction in which said groups are removable from said package via said openable end thereof.
5. In combination, a container having a plurality of groups of discrete articles arranged with an identical number of said articles in each group and in layers in relatively tightly packed relation in said package and a flexible element extending alternately in opposite directions between each of the groups from one openable end of the package to the other end thereof and thence back along one side of the package in frictional engagement between the edges of said articles in at least one of said groups of closest said other end and the adjacent side wall of the package.
6. A protecting and dispensing package for surgical dressings such as gauze sponges or the like consisting of an enclosure adapted to closely surround the sponges with the same arranged in layers extending transversely to the lengthwise dimension of the package and having one end openable for removal of the sponges therethrough, a plurality of groups of sponges firmly packed in layers in the package with an identical number of precounted sponges in each group, and a flexible element extending in zigzag fashion within said enclosure alternately in opposite directions between each of said groups from said one end of the package to the other with one terminal end of said element disposed between the openable end of the package and the adjacent group of sponges, said element having a terminal run adjacent its other end extending from between the opposite end of said package and the group of sponges adjacent thereto along the one side of the package toward said openable end for a distance at least two groups of said sponges, said terminal run being frictionally engaged between the edges of said last two groups of sponges and the adjacent side wall of the enclosure for frictionally retaining said terminal end of said element generally in place as the groups of sponges are successively removed via said openable end.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,651,289 11/1927 OClair 221- 1,671,825 5/1928 Johnson 206--63.2 3,061,087 10/1962 Scrivens et al 206-632 FOREIGN PATENTS 965,228 2/ 1950 France. 603,211 9/1934 Germany.
THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner. W. T. DIXON, JR., Assistant Examiner.