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United States Patent [w]
Skubal et al.
US006006856A [ii] Patent Number:  Date of Patent:
 STETHOSCOPE SHEATHING SYSTEM
 Inventors: John A. Skubal, 11319 Hemlock;
Richard Beamon, W. 115th PL, both of
Overland Park, Kans. 66210; Mark
Holcomb, 14905 Caemen La., Olathe,
 Appl. No.: 09/082,595
 Filed: May 21, 1998
 Int. C I. A61B 7/02
 U.S. C I 181/131
 Field of Search 181/131, 137;
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
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4,589,149 5/1986 Bassi .
4,757,381 7/1988 Cooper, et al. .
4,867,268 9/1989 Ulert .
4,871,046 10/1989 Turner .
4,995,473 2/1991 Packard .
5,228,851 7/1993 Burton .
5,269,314 12/1993 Kendall et al. .
5,466,898 11/1995 Gilbert et al 181/131
5,486,659 1/1996 Rosenbush 181/131
5,539,162 7/1996 Tuttle 181/131
5,564,431 10/1996 Seward 600/528
5,623,131 4/1997 Earnest 181/131
Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, 1996 (Revised), OSHA 3127, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
An elastic sheath and a retaining ring is provided for a stethoscope having a head, a sound tube and an earpiece. The sheath has an open end for admittance of the head and a portion of the sound tube and a closed end. The sheath is sized such that the head of the stethoscope and at least a portion of the sound tube is enveloped by the sheath. The retaining ring is mounted to the sound tube and extends radially outwardly therefrom. The retaining ring is sized such that the sheath plastically deforms to envelop the retaining ring. The retaining ring thus releasably retains the sheath on the stethoscope.
9 Claims, 2 Drawing Sheets
STETHOSCOPE SHEATHING SYSTEM
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
The present invention relates to a sheathing system for a medical stethoscope and, more particularly, to a disposable sheath for the head and a portion of the tubing of a stethoscope and a retaining ring to secure the sheath to the stethoscope in order to maintain hygienic conditions and to prevent both the contamination of the patient's skin by the stethoscope and the contamination of the stethoscope by the patient's skin.
2. Statement of the Art
The stethoscope is a clinical, diagnostic instrument for performing mediate auscultation. The stethoscope is used during examination of patients in a doctor's office, in hospital clinics, emergency rooms or while conducting hospital rounds. By means of this instrument the respiratory, cardiac, plural, arterial and other sounds are conveyed to the ear of the user by applying the head of the stethoscope to the patient's chest, abdomen, and other areas. These areas may be secreting bodily fluids contaminated with infectious agents, including viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) resulting in the contamination of the stethoscope head and portion of the tubing in contact with the skin. Obviously, the stethoscope will contaminate the next patient's skin unless the stethoscope is sterilized between each examination.
In practice, however, medical personnel do not sterilize the stethoscope between examinations of different patients, especially during hospital rounds or busy situations. Physicians and nurses generally use their own stethoscopes without specific preventative measures. For example, it is common, after examining a patient, merely to wipe the stethoscope with a paper towel alone or with alcohol. Even if sterilization is practiced, it is very hard to clean crevices and surfaces of the stethoscope with alcohol or other conventional liquid disinfectants.
The prior art teaches the use of sheaths for covering stethoscopes to prevent cross-contamination. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,486,659 discloses a stethoscope protection device for protecting the stethoscope from contamination during a stethoscopic examination. It teaches the use of a decreased or stepped-down portions in the interior of the sleeve to receive the head of the stethoscope and thereby secure the sleeve on the stethoscope.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,466,898 is directed to a stethoscope isolation system for preventing nosocomial infection. The system includes a stethoscope sleeve having an adhesive strip on one side. The sleeve is adapted to envelop the entire tube and the adhesive strip is used to secure the sleeve around the tube separation area.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,539,162 discloses a cover for a stethoscope to cover the portion of tubing that will contact the carrier's neck as carried about the neck. The sleeve is retained on the stethoscope through drawstrings to allow a knot to gather the material at each end of the sound tube. Alternatively, this patent discloses the use of hook and loop material on the inside of the sleeve to fasten the sleeve between the diverging ear tubes.
The prior art contemplates sheathing the stethoscope for prevention of transmission of invective infective disease via contact with the head. However, a need exists for a system of sheathing the stethoscope that incorporates a retaining system that easily, economically and releasably retains the
sheath on the stethoscope, without the need to specially fabricate standard sheaths for this purpose.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
5 It is an object of the present invention to provide a system for preventing the transmission of infection from one patient to another via a contaminated stethoscope.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a sheathing system that securely retains the sheath in a taut relation to the stethoscope head and not interfere with the stethoscope's operation.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a sheathing system that is effective, inexpensive to
15 manufacture, disposable and easy to implement.
These and other objects are obtained by the present invention, which generally comprises the combination of an elastic sheath for a stethoscope having a head, a sound tube and an earpiece, and a retaining ring for releasably retaining
20 the sheath on the stethoscope. The sheath has an open end for admittance of the head and a portion of the sound tube, and a closed end. The sheath is sized such that the head of the stethoscope and at least a portion of the sound tube is enveloped by the sheath. The retaining ring is mounted to the
25 sound tube of the stethoscope and extends radially outwardly from the sound tube. The retaining ring is sized such that the sheath plastically deforms to envelop the retaining ring and as such, the retaining ring releasably retains the sheath on the stethoscope.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a frontal view of an exemplary off-the-shelf stethoscope
FIG. 2 is a frontal view of the sheathing system of the 35 present invention mounted to the stethoscope;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the sheath enveloping the head of the stethoscope, with a portion of the retaining ring cut-out; and
40 FIG. 4 is a frontal view of the sheath dispenser.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
Referring now to FIG. 1, a standard stethoscope 10 is 45 shown to include a head 12 having a diaphragm portion 14, a bell portion 16 and a tubular outlet 18 containing an air column. A flexible sound tube 20 connects the outlet 18 to the binaural earpiece tubes 22 and ear tips 24. As shown in FIG. 2, the sheathing system, indicated generally at 26, 50 comprises a disposable sheath 28 configured to envelop the head 12 of the stethoscope and at least a portion 30 of the sound tube 20, and a retaining ring 32 mounted to the sound tube for releasably retaining the sheath on the stethoscope 10.
55 The sheath 28 is preferably tubular in shape and includes an open end 29 and a closed end 31. The open end 29 is sized to receive the head 12 and the sheath is sized to extend and receive a portion 30 of the sound tube of the stethoscope. The dimensions of the sheath 28 may be somewhat variable
60 as long as the sheath is appropriate for receiving the head 12 of a stethoscope. Preferably, a standard, nonlubricated prophylactic is used as the sheath of the present invention. As such, the sleeve is approximately two to eight centimeters in width and five to thirty centimeters in length. The sheath is
65 preferably made of a thin, flexible, polymeric material such as polyethylene, latex rubber, silicone, soft vinyl, urethane, and the like as is well known in the art. The sheath of the