US 3762601 A
A cabinet containing individual compartments each with an individual time lock for holding various doses of prescribed medicines respectively is positioned adjacent a given patient's bed. The individual time locks are programmed to open at given times during a 24 hour period at which the medicine in the corresponding compartment is to be given to the patient. A signal light advises a nurse whenever any one of the compartments is unlocked. It is thus assured that the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine is given to the correct patient at the correct given time for that particular medicine.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
tjnited States Patent 1191 McLaughlin 1 CABllNET FOR DESPENSING MEDKCHNES AT lPlREDETERMIlNED TliMES  Inventor: John T. McLaughlin, 655 N. Central Ave., Glendale, Calif.
 Filed: Aug. ll ll, 1972  Appl. No.: 280,655
 U.S. Cl. 221/2  lint. Cl A47b 67/02  Field of Search 221/154, 2, 103,
221/3, 69, 4, S, 9, l5, 8, 12, 92; 206/412 R; 70/267, 441; 312/215  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,369,697 2/1968 Glucksman et al. i. 221/[54 X Primary Examiner-Stanley H. Tollberg Altorney-Pastoriza & Kelly i 1 ABSTRACT A cabinet containing individual compartments each with an individual time lock for holding various doses of prescribed medicines respectively is positioned adjacent a given patients bed. The individual time locks are programmed to open at given times during a 24 hour period at which the medicine in the corresponding compartment is to be given to the patient. A signal light advises a nurse whenever any one of the compartments is unlocked. It is thus assured that the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine is given to the correct patient at the correct given time for that particular medicine.
7 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures PATENTEU 21975 3.762.601
CLOCK PULSE GENERATOR 45 34 LSOUNTE ssr STAT ION FIG. 3.
CABINET FOR DISPENSING MEDICINES AT PREDETERMINED TIMES This invention relates to a method and apparatus for dispensing medicine and more particularly to a system for dispensing medicine to a given patient in a hospital room.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In hospital operations, there are oftentimes errors of omission of commission in carrying out medicine orders. These errors include:
1. Incorrect dose of medicine given to a patient.
2. Incorrect prescribed medicine given to a patient.
3. Medicine given to the wrong patient.
4. Medicine given at the wrong time.
5. Medicine given after it has been discontinued.
The foregoing errors usually arise as a consequence of the physical operations carried out in the hospital in the giving of medicines to patients. Normally, all of the medicines are kept in a central medicine room accessible from a hospital corridor. When it is time for a patient to be given a given dose of medicine as set forth on the patients chart normally kept at the foot of his bed or at the nurses station, the nurse or other attendant will obtain the medicine from the medicine room and bring it to the patient.
With the foregoing procedure, it will be evident that many of the above errors can easily occur. For example, the nurse or attendant may select an incorrect dose of the medicine from the medicine room or the wrong medicine, or deliver the selected medicine to the wrong patient or inadvertently dispense the medicine at the incorrect time. Also, since a large quantity of various medicines is available from the medicine room, continuous dosages of medicine may be given to a patient after it has been discontinued.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION The foregoing described specific errors can be substantially overcome by the method and apparatus for dispensing medicine in accord with the present invention.
Briefly, theinvention contemplates a method and apparatus for dispensing a given dose of a prescribed medicine to a given patient at a given time during a 24 hour period. The steps involved include disposing of the given dose of the prescribed medicine in a locked enclosure adjacent tothe given patient; for example, on a bedside table or an end wall close to the patient. The enclosure is then programmed to become unlocked at the given time that medicine is to be given to the patient so that access to the medicine may be had. A signal is provided at the given time of unlocking of the enclosure to notify a nurse that the given time has arrived for the patient to take the given dose of medicine.
As a result of the foregoing, it is assured that the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine is given to the correct patient at the correct time.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the enclosure is defined by a cabinet containing a plurality of individual compartments each provided with an individual time lock for holding various doses of prescribed medicines to be given to a given patient at various given times during a 24 hour period. A time lock setting means is provided in the cabinet connected to the time locks for enabling the programming of given times when the individual compartment doors will respec tively be unlocked so that each door will only be unlocked at those given times during a 24 hour period when the particular medicine in the associated compartment is to be given to the patient. Signal means are provided for signaling a nurse whenever any one of the individual doors is unlocked.
A main door is also provided on the cabinet mechanically locked by a key in the possession of the nurse, the main door blocking access to the individual doors when closed. With this arrangement, the nurse when receiving the signal can enter the patients room, unlock the main door and dispense the medicine from that particular compartment whose door has been unlocked by the programming of the time lock setting means.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS:
A better understanding of the invention will be had by now referring to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a typical hospital room showing a preferred apparatus disposed on a wall adjacent to a patients bed for carrying out the invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. I; and,
FIG. 3 is a simple block diagram of one type of programming means incorporated in the apparatus of FIG. 2.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT:
Referring to FIG. I, there is shown a typical hospital room 10 including a patients bed 11 with the usual patients chart 12 at the foot of the bed. The apparatus of the present invention takes the form of an enclosure means 13 which may be secured to an end wall 14 adjacent to the patients bed.
The enclosure 13 may take the form of a cabinet 15 having a main door 16 hinged to the front of the cabinet and another door 17 on the top of the cabinet. An exterior side of the cabinet includes a main signal light 18 and there is also shown a locking means 19 for the main door 16. As indicated at 20, various prescribed doses of medicines may be written out on a chart and secured to the inside of the main door 16. These prescriptions may correspond to those normally provided on the patients chart 12 at the foot of his bed.
Still referring to FIG. 1, there is indicated by the dash line 21 a means for providing a signal to a remote nurses station.
Referring now to FIG. 2, details of the cabinet 15 will be described. As shown, the cabinet contains a plurality of compartments 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26. While five specific compartments have been shown, there may be provided additional or fewer compartments if desired.
The compartments are respectively provided with individual doors 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. The first four of these doors have associated with them individual signal lights 32, 33, 34 and 35. Also these first four individual doors are provided with individual time locks 36, 37, 38 and 39. There is no time lock provided on the door 31 for the compartment 26, the reasons for which will become evident as the description proceeds.
The top door 17 is provided with a mechanical lock 40 operable by a key which may be in the possession of a pharmacist. This door provided access to all of the compartments independently of whether the individual doors with time locks are locked or unlocked.
It will also be noted that the cabinet includes a program means such as a time clock M with time clock setting means 42 and a reset button 43.
In FIG. 2, one of the individual doors 38 for the com partment 24 is shown in open position thereby provid ing access to a given dose of a prescribed medicine indicated generally by the numeral 34. By making the compartments fairly deep in dimension, bottles of medicinc may be accommodated in addition to tablets or small packets as illustrated.
A programming means for operating the individual time locks for the compartment doors at given times during the 24 hour period is illustrated in FIG. 3. There are many different types of circuits for accomplishing the desired end result and the circuit in and of itself does not constitute part of the present invention. The block diagram of FIG. 3 is merely given as one example of such a programming means.
As shown in FIG. 3, the time clock 41 may take the form of a clock pulse generator providing a train of electrical pulses to a plurality of counters 45, 46, 47 and 48. The respective counters may be individually set as by the time clock setting means 52 to provide an output signal only after a given number of time clock pulses have been accumulated. The output signal may then be passed to one of the individual signal lights, 32, 33, 34 or 35, and simultaneously to the associated time lock 36, 37, 38 and 39.
The programming means also includes a means for actuating the master lock 19 for the main door 16 and the main signal light 118 on the side of the cabinet whenever any one of the time locks is actuated to unlock an associated compartment door. This means is accomplished by picking up any one output signal from the counters and passing it through an OR circuit 49, the output of which passes to the master lock 19 and main signal light 18. The same output signal may be passed along the line 21 to energize a signal at a remote nurses station.
OPERATION In operation, at the beginning of a 24 hour period, a pharmacist or doctor will fill one or more of the compartments with various given doses of prescribed medicines in accord with the particular patients chart. Only that dosage which the patient is to receive over the 24 hour period is placed in the compartment or compartments. This operation may easily be carried out by simply opening the door 17 which provides access to all of the compartments simultaneously.
After the proper doses of prescribed medicine have been placed in one or more of the compartments, the top door 17 is closed and locked.
The individual time locks for the compartment doors are then set to open at various given times during the 24 hour period corresponding to the proper time that the medicine in the associated comparment is to be dispensed to the patient. Such setting may easily be accomplished by the setting means associated with the counters of FIG. 3.
As a simple example of the foregoing, assume that a specific dose of prescribed medicine in the compartment 22 is to be given to the patient only at 8:00 a.m. If the clock pulse generator provides one pulse each hour and the programming is set to start at midnight, the counter 45 may be set to provide an output signal when eight pulses have been received. The time lock 36 associated with the compartment 22 will thus automatically unlock at 8:00 a.m. in the morning. The generated output signal at this given time will also be communicated through the OR" circuit 49 to unlock the master lock I9 for the main door and simultaneously energize the main light 18. Also, the signal light 32 associated with the individual compartment door 27 will be energized. Finally, the same energizing signal will be passed along the line 21 to a remote nurses station where there may be provided an auxiliary light to signal the nurse that the time has arrived for the patient to take medicine.
The nurse will then enter the patients room and unlock the main door 16 which includes a mechanical lock in addition to the electrical lock 19 with her key. She will immediately observe the signal light above the compartment door 27 and will know that this door can now be opened and the particular dose of medicine therein dispensed to the patient.
The other compartments may be similarly set to open at certain given times throughout the 24 hour period so that it is assured the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine will be given to the correct patient at the correct time.
Because only the proper dosage of medicine for a 24 hour period is provided in the individual compartments, there is no chance of overdosing the patient. If the patient is to have the same medicine every four hours; for example, at 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 4:00 p.m., and 8:00 pm, the proper dose for each given time would be packeted so that there would be four doses in the one compartment associated with the particular prescribed medicine. The counter for this one compartment may be set to provide an output signal only when 8, l2, l6, and 20 pulses are received. At all other times, this compartment will remain locked.
In FIG. 2, the compartment door 38 is shown open as described heretofore and it will be noted that the corresponding individual signal light 34 is shown illuminated.
In many instances, and as described, one given patient will require different types of medicines at different times of the day. It is for this reason that there is preferably provided more than one compartment. Normally, there would not ever be required more than six compartments but it is to be understood that the invention is not limited by the number ofindividual compartments.
The compartment 26 having an associated door 31 for which there is no time lock is provided for certain types of medicines that may be arbitrarily given to the patient; for example, aspirin or pain pills wherein there is no specific time for the dispensing of that type of medicine. In this case, the nurse when called by the patient's call button can simply unlock the main door 16 and gain ready access to the compartment 26 since its corresponding door has no time lock.
From the foregoing description, it will thus be evident that the present invention has provided a novel method and apparatus for facilitating the dispensing of medicine wherein errors heretofore associated with such operations are substantially eliminated.
What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus for dispensing a given dose of a prescribed medicine to a given patient at a given time during a 24 hour period, comprising, in combination:
a. an enclosure means including at least one individual compartment for holding said given close of prescribed medicine positioned adjacent to said given patient, said compartment having a door;
b. time lock means connected to said door to maintain the compartment normally locked;
c. means connected to said time lock means for setting at least one specific time corresponding to said given time during said 24 hour period at which said door is unlocked to provide access to said compartment;
(1. said enclosure means including a main door covering the compartment door and having a key lock so that access to the compartment can only be had by first unlocking the main door, the key to the main door being in the possession of a nurse; and,
e. signal means responsive to said specific time for providing a signal to notify a nurse that the given time has arrived for the patient to take the given dose of medicine whereby the nurse may enter the patients room, unlock the main door, and dispense the given dose of medicine from the compartment to the patient whereby it is assured that the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine is given to the correct patient at the correct time.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1, in which said signal means includes a light on the side of the enclosure means visible to the patient when said signal is provided.
3. An apparatus according to claim 2, including another door providing access to said compartment by a key so that access may be had by authorized personnel independently of locking and unlocking of the compartment by said time lock means, whereby said compartment may be stocked with said given dose of prescribed medicine.
4. An apparatus for dispensing various doses of various prescribed medicines to a given patient at given times during a 24 hour period, comprising, in combination:
a. an enclosure defined by a cabinet positionable adjacent to said patient;
b. a plurality ofindividual compartments in said cabinet, each having an access door with an individual time lock for holding various doses of said medicines;
c. time lock setting means in said cabinet connected to said time locks for enabling the programming of given times when the individual compartment doors will respectively be unlocked so that each door will only be unlocked at those given times during the 24 hour period when the given medicine in the associated compartment is to be given to the patient;
d. signal means connected to said time lock setting means for providing a signal to a nurse whenever any one of said individual doors is unlocked; and,
e. a main door on said cabinet mechanically locked by a key in the possession of said nurse, said main door blocking access to said individual doors when closed whereby said nurse, when receiving said sig nal, can enter the patients room, unlock the main door and dispense medicine from that particular compartment whose door has been unlocked by the programming of the time lock setting means so that it is assured that the correct dose of the correct prescribed medicine is given to the correct patient at the correct given time for that particular medicine.
5. An apparatus according to claim 4, in which each individual compartment door has an associated signal light which is automatically energized when the associated individual compartment door is unlocked so that the correct compartment for the given time at which the given medicine therein is to be dispensed is identified.
6. An apparatus according to claim 5,.in which said cabinet includes another door providing access to all of said compartments by a single key so that the various doses of different medicines may easily be placed in the various compartments without disturbing the time lock setting means.
7. An apparatus according to claim 6, in which said signal means include a main light mounted on the exterior of said cabinet connected to be energized whenever one of said individual compartment doors is unlocked; and in which said main door for said compartments additionally includes a time lock connected to be unlocked whenever any one of said individual compartment doors is unlocked.