A portable pill crusher for crushing tablets of compressed powder
has upper and lower plates, The plates attached to one another at
one end, and forced apart at the opposite end so that the crusher
is normally in a pill-loading position. The crusher has a handle
attached to a post which extends upwardly from the lower plate through
the upper plate, and the handle has a downwardly extending lobe
which acts as a cam on the top surface of the upper plate, pushing
it downwardly when a user applies a force to the handle. The upper
plate has a crush member on its under-side which is sized and configured
to fit within a pill receptacle formed on the end of the lower plate.
The device can be operated by one hand, and requires little force
What is claimed is:
1. A pill crushing device comprising: (a) a lower plate having
a first end and a second end; (b) an upper plate having an upper
surface, a first end and a second end, said second end of said upper
plate attached to said second end of said lower plate; (c) means
for urging said first ends of said upper and lower plates apart
from one another; (d) a receptacle for accepting crushable pills,
said receptacle projecting upwardly from said first end of said
lower plate; (e) a crushing member projecting downwardly from said
first end of said upper plate, said crushing member sized to fit
within said receptacle; (f) a post extending upwardly from said
lower plate through said upper plate, said post positioned between
said second end of said lower plate and said receptacle; and (g)
a handle pivotally attached to said post above said upper plate,
said handle having a lobe extending downwardly therefrom to abut
and apply a camming force to said upper surface of said upper plate;
wherein said device is operable by said handle between a pill-loading
position wherein said first ends are urged apart by said urging
means and a pill-crushing position wherein said first ends are nearer
2. The pill crushing device of claim 1 wherein said post is positioned
nearer to said receptacle than to said second end of said lower
3. The pill crushing device of claim 2 wherein said means for urging
said first ends away from one another comprises a spring coiled
around said post between said lower and upper plates.
4. The pill crushing device of claim 2 wherein said means for urging
said first ends away from one another comprises a leaf spring attached
between said lower plate and said upper plate.
5. The pill crushing device of claim 2 wherein said upper and lower
plates are formed of one sheet of material bent over on itself,
and wherein the said means for urging said first end of said upper
plate away from said first end of said lower plate comprises the
natural elasticity of said material.
6. The pill crushing device of claim 2 wherein said receptacle
has a concave face and said crushing member has a convex end.
7. The pill crushing device of claim 6 wherein said receptacle
is sized to accept a paper cup.
8. The pill crushing device of claim 2 wherein an end of said handle
is attached to an end of said post.
9. The pill crushing device of claim 2 said upper plate has attached
to the sides thereof downwardly extending support members, said
support members extending generally along one third of said upper
plate from said first end thereof.
10. The pill crushing device of claim 1 wherein said first and
second plates are hinged together at said second ends.
The present invention relates to devices for crushing materials
and in particular relates to devices for quickly and securely crushing
crushable pills and other such medicaments to allow patients to
ingest them more easily.
Medicaments are often provided in the form of pills, and many pills
are in the form of tablets comprising compressed agglomerations
of powder. These tablets are capable of being crushed into smaller
pieces and/or powder.
There are several problems associated with administering medicaments
in a tablet form. Many people have difficulty swallowing tablets,
and it is not uncommon for such people to require that the tablets
be crushed to make them easier to swallow. In an institutional setting
(for example, in a hospital), it is common to crush tablets into
smaller pieces and/or powder and to mix the resulting smaller pieces
and powder into pudding or some other food substance to make the
medicament more easily ingestible.
At one time, pills were crushed in hospitals using a mortar and
pestle. The use of a mortar and pestle was long ago abandoned, due
to several problems. Primarily, a mortar and pestle required too
much time and energy to use, and required cleaning between uses
to avoid cross-contamination of the medications in the crushed tablets.
Accordingly, over the years many mechanical devices have been suggested
for crushing pills, among them those devices described in U.S. Pat.
Nos. 2631786 3915393 4003523 4199863 4366930 4694996
4824000 5123601 5178337 5823451 5863001 5915637
5924636 6059209 and 6357679.
Each one of these prior art pill crushers has disadvantages, however.
Either they are not capable of crushing the large numbers of pills
which are crushed daily in an institutional setting, or they do
not provide means to avoid cross-contamination of crushed medications
unless they are thoroughly cleaned between uses (which requires
a significant amount of time and energy), or they require a considerable
amount of force to use. The latter is a significant problem in institutional
settings where hundreds of pills might be required to be crushed
by a single person (perhaps a nurse) each day. While large-scale
crushers have also been proposed, these are generally electrically-powered,
heavy devices, and are not portable.
The need remains, accordingly, for a portable pill crusher capable
of easily crushing large numbers of pills using only a small amount
of force, and in which cross-contamination of medications is easily
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
The present invention is a device for crushing crushable pills.
In the most basic embodiment of the invention, upper and lower plates
are attached to one another at one end. The lower plate has a first,
free end and the attached second end. The upper plate has an upper
surface, a first end and the attached second end.
A receptacle for accepting crushable pills projects upwardly from
the first end of the lower plate, and a crushing member projects
downwardly from the first end of the upper plate. The crushing member
is preferably sized to fit within the receptacle when the two are
Between the plates is mounted a means for urging the first ends
of the upper and lower plates away from one another. The device
also comprises a post extending upwardly from the lower plate through
the upper plate, with the post positioned between the second end
of the lower plate and the receptacle on the lower plate.
The post is preferably positioned nearer to said receptacle than
to said second end of said lower plate.
A handle is provided which is pivotally attached to the post at
a position above the upper plate. The handle may be attached at
one end to the top end of the post. The handle has a lobe extending
downwardly therefrom to abut and apply a camming force to the upper
surface of the upper plate. The device is operable by means of the
handle between a pill-loading position wherein the first ends are
urged apart by the urging means and a pill-crushing position wherein
the first ends are nearer one another, placing the crush member
within the receptacle.
In one embodiment of the invention, the means for urging the first
ends away from one another comprises a spring coiled around the
post between the lower and upper plates. In an alternate embodiment,
the urging means is a leaf spring attached between the lower plate
and the upper plate. In yet another embodiment, the upper and lower
plates are formed from one sheet of material bent over on itself,
and it is merely the natural elasticity of the material which comprises
the means for urging the ends of the device apart.
To allow for more efficient placement of pills into the device,
and to perform a good crush, the receptacle may have a concave face
and the crushing member may have a convex end. The receptacle may
be suitably sized to accept one or more paper cups.
To provide support for the device, the upper plate may have attached
to its sides downwardly extending support members, which may extend
generally along one third of the length of the upper plate from
the first end thereof.
There is also provided a method of crushing pills, comprising the
steps of (a) placing pills to be crushed into a first paper cup;
(b) placing a second paper cup into the first paper cup, thereby
covering the pills; (c) placing the paper cups into the receptacle
of the device while the device is in the pill-loading position;
(d) applying a downward force to the handle, thereby forcing the
device into the pill-crushing position; (e) removing the force from
the handle, allowing the urging means to urge the device into the
pill-loading position; and (f) removing the paper cups from the
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
It will be appreciated that the particularized description of the
invention described briefly above which follows hereafter is rendered
by reference to certain specific embodiments of the invention which
are illustrated in the appended drawings. The drawings depict only
a typical embodiment of the invention and are not therefore to be
considered to be limiting of its scope.
Accordingly, in the accompanying drawings which illustrate specific
embodiments of the invention, but which should not be construed
as restricting the spirit or scope of the invention in any way:
FIG. 1 is a side view of one embodiment of a pill crusher of the
present invention, in an open or "pill-loading" position.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the top surface of the bottom plate of
the pill crusher shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the bottom surface of the top plate of
the pill crusher shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a side view of the pill crusher shown in FIG. 1 in a
closed or "pill-crushing" position.
FIG. 5 is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the pill crusher
shown in FIG. 1 having a leaf spring.
FIG. 6 is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the pill crusher
of the present invention, with the top and bottom plates being formed
of a single sheet of material.
FIG. 7 is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the pill crusher
of the present invention, showing the handle having a non-rounded
Throughout the following description, specific details are set
forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the invention.
However, the invention may be practiced without these particulars.
In other instances, well known elements have not been shown or described
in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the invention. Accordingly,
the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative,
rather than a restrictive, sense.
Referring first to FIG. 1 the pill crusher of the present invention
may be constructed generally of two rectangular plates, a lower
plate 10 and an upper plate 20. The device may be used with lower
plate 10 placed upon a flat surface such as a table top or a counter
Lower plate 10 has two ends, a first end 12 and a second end 14.
Similarly, upper plate 20 also has a first end 22 and a second end
24. Plates 10 20 are attached to one another at one end (the respective
second ends, as shown in the drawings), and may be hinged together
by means of hinge 60.
Lower plate 10 has extending upwardly from its upper surface a
receptacle 16 for accepting crushable pills. Receptacle 16 is also
clearly illustrated in FIG. 2. Receptacle 16 is located at the first
end of lower plate 10. As described herein, the term "at the
end" of lower plate 10 is intended merely to describe that
the receptacle is at or near the end of plate 10. It is foreseen
that the receptacle 16 need not be precisely at the very end of
plate 10 but rather need only be nearby. The receptacle should
be considered to be "at the end" of plate 10 as contemplated
by the inventor if the center of the receptacle occupies a longitudinal
position within the first fifth of the length of plate 10 from end
Similarly, upper plate 20 has a crush member 26 extending downwardly
from the lower surface of plate 20 at the "end" of plate
20. It is intended that the "end" of plate 20 as described
herein means the first fifth of the length of the plate 20 as described
above with reference to receptacle 16. The crush member 26 is illustrated
in greater detail in FIG. 3.
Receptacle 16 and crush member 26 may be of any shape when view
end-on or from the side, but both are preferably round or cylindrical.
The top surface of receptacle 16 is preferably "cup-shaped"
or concave, while the crush member 26 preferably has a convex end.
It will be appreciated from the figures and the description herein
that crush member 26 is sized and configured to fit or "nest"
tightly within receptacle 16 when the device is in a crushing position.
Referring again to FIG. 1 a post 30 extends upwardly from the
top surface of the lower plate 10 and extends through a hole (labelled
"28" in FIG. 3) formed through upper plate 20. It will
be appreciated that hole 38 should be large enough second plate
20 to move between an elevated position and a lowered position as
described below without binding on post 30.
An arm 40 is pivotally attached to post 30 above the top surface
of upper plate 20 at attachment point 35. The post 30 may be positioned
anywhere along the length of lower plate 10 between the receptacle
16 and second end 14 but is preferably close to receptacle 16 to
allow force applied to handle 40 to provide good leverage as described
in greater detail below. Similarly, post 30 extends through plate
20 at a corresponding point between crush member 26 and second end
24 but preferably near crush member 26.
It will be appreciated that an upper plate, hinged to a lower plate
as described herein, would normally tend to fall and rest on the
lower plate due to gravity. Means for urging the first ends 12
22 of plates 10 20 apart is therefore provided to urge the first
end 22 of the upper plate 20 up and away from the first end 12 of
the lower plate 10 thereby forcing the upper plate 20 into an elevated
position above the lower plate 10 and placing the device into a
"pill-loading" position wherein the receptacle 16 is easily
accessible to the user. In the embodiment of the invention shown
in FIG. 1 this urging means is conveniently a spring 50 coiled
around the post 30. It should be clear that many other devices to
urge apart the plates might be contemplated by those skilled in
the art, including a leaf spring 52 as shown in FIG. 5 affixed
between plates 10 and 20. Other devices are contemplated by the
inventor but not described herein in detail to avoid obscuring the
To transfer force applied to handle 40 to top plate 20 handle
40 is supplied with a lobe 42 which extends downwardly therefrom
and which abuts the upper surface of upper plate 20 as shown in
FIGS. 1 and 4. The lobe 42 acts as a cam to transfer force applied
by a user to the handle 40 to the upper surface of upper plate 20
and in turn to crush member 26 which will crush pills placed within
receptacle 16 if enough force is applied. The lobe 42 is preferably
rounded, but need not be, and may be any shape as long as it is
able to act as a cam on the top surface of upper plate 20. An alternate
cam arrangement is illustrated in FIG. 7 with handle 40 having
a non-rounded cam 44.
In operation, the device is normally in an open or "pill-loading
position (shown in FIG. 1). As previously described, the device
is urged into this position by spring 50. When it is desired to
crush a pill or a plurality of pills, the pills are placed by the
user into receptacle 16. To avoid cross-contamination of medications,
and to avoid having to clean the device after each use to avoid
cross contamination, the pills may be conveniently placed between
two paper cups 80 as is currently common in the art. A plurality
of pills in between paper cups 80 is illustrated for the sake of
completeness in FIG. 6.
Referring to FIG. 4 once the pills are inserted by the user into
receptacle 16 the user applies a force to handle 40 moving handle
40 in the direction "D" as shown in FIG. 4. the nature
of the construction of the device allows the user to apply this
force with only one hand, if desired. By applying force to handle
40 as shown in FIG. 4 handle 40 moves from the elevated position
shown in FIG. 1 to the closed or "pill-crushing" position
shown in FIG. 4. As handle 40 moves downwardly, the lobe 42 on handle
40 acts as a cam to transfer the force applied to handle 40 to the
top surface of upper plate 20 forcing upper plate 20 downwardly
with respect to lower plate 10. As noted above, with crush member
26 properly configured, crush member 26 is forced against or even
into receptacle 16 thereby crushing the pills contained therein.
In the meantime, spring 50 has been compressed by the downward motion
of upper plate 20 as shown in FIG. 4 and is able to exert an opposing
force on the upper plate when the user relieves the force which
had been applied to handle 40. Upper plate 20 in other words, then
returns to its initial position, and the pills (preferably contained
within paper cups 80) may be extracted from the receptacle of the
It will be appreciated that the plates 10 20 and especially upper
plate 20 should be constructed of a material strong enough to withstand
the forces applied to it. If the material is too thick or heavy,
however, this limits the portability of the device. To maintain
the portability of the device, a material of slightly less robust
material can be used, if support members 70 are applied to the sides
of upper plate 20 along that length of plate 20 where the forces
are generally applied (perhaps along the first third of the plate).
This is illustrated in FIG. 70.
As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of
the foregoing disclosure, many alterations and modifications are
possible in the practice of this invention without departing from
the spirit or scope thereof. For example, while the invention has
been described as have a hinge between the lower and upper plates,
the plates need not be hinged together for the invention to work.
In fact, in the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 6 the
plates 10 20 are formed from a single sheet of material which has
such natural elastic properties as to normally urge the ends of
plates 10 20 apart, placing the device naturally in an open position.
In this case, the "urging means" 54 (FIG. 6) is simply
the natural elasticity of the material form which plates 10 20
Accordingly, the scope of the invention is to be construed in accordance
with the substance defined by the following claims.