Syringe needle abstract
A method and apparatus for destroying a syringe needle, having
a housing, first and second walls in opposed relationship in the
housing and defining therebetween a needle burn chamber, the distance
between the first and second surfaces being at least the length
of the needle, the first surface defining a first opening therethrough,
a needle receiving enclosure in the chamber movable between the
first and second surfaces and defining a second opening therethrough
which is coaxial with the first opening, a first electrical contact
on the needle receiving enclosure, a second electrical contact on
the second surface and being in registry with the second opening,
power source connected to the first and second contacts, a waste
collector disposed in the housing beneath and in communication with
the burn chamber, the waste collector being removable from the housing
and a mechanism that moves the needle receiving enclosure toward
the first opening; so that when the needle is inserted through the
first and second openings to be in contacting relationship to the
needle receiving enclosure and the needle receiving means is moved
toward the second surface, the tip of the needle engages the second
contact closing the circuit between the contacts and melting the
needle along at least most of its length with the resultant melted
waste falling into the waste collector.
Syringe needle claims
What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus for destroying a syringe needle, comprising:
(a) a housing;
(b) first and second substantially vertically oriented surfaces
in opposed relationship in the housing, and defining therebetween
a needle burn chamber, the distance between the first and second
surfaces being at least the length of the syringe needle, the first
surface defining a first opening therethrough;
(c) a substantially horizontal needle receiving means with guide
means comprising posts between the surfaces and a biasing means
comprising springs on the posts in the chamber movable between the
first and second surfaces and defining a second opening therethrough
which is coaxial with the first opening;
(d) a first electrical contact on the needle receiving means;
(e) a second electrical contact on the second surface and being
in registry with the second opening;
(f) power means connected to the first and second contacts; and
(g) means for normally biasing the needle receiving means toward
the first opening so that when the needle is inserted in a substantially
horizontal manner through the first and second openings to be in
contacting relationship to the needle receiving means and the needle
receiving means is moved toward the second surface, the tip of the
needle engages the second contact closing the circuit between the
contacts and melting the needle along at least most of its length.
2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a waste
collecting means disposed in the housing beneath and in communication
with the burn chamber.
3. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the needle receiving
means is a circular plate.
4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 and further comprising a
needle guide means detachably mounted on said needle receiving means
exteriorly of said housing, said guide means having a channel therethrough
of a specific diameter corresponding to the diameter of said needle.
5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein said waste collecting
means is removable from said housing and lock means are provided
on said waste collecting means.
6. A method of destroying a syringe needle, having a metal portion,
comprising the steps of:
(a) inserting the metal portion of a needle through a substantially
horizontal needle receiving means with guide means comprising posts
and a biasing means comprising springs on the posts into a needle
burn chamber having a first electrical contact on the needle receiving
means and a second electrical contact on a wall of the chamber opposite
the needle receiving means;
(b) energizing the contacts;
(c) moving the needle receiving means toward said wall until the
metal portion engages the second electrical contact, closing the
circuit between the contacts; and
(d) pushing the needle receiving means toward the wall until at
least a major portion of the metal portion is melted along its length.
Syringe needle description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a method and apparatus for destroying
the steel portion of a syringe.
The threat of infectious diseases and, of course, in particular
AIDS and hepatitis B, is very prevalent today in hospitals and doctors'
offices as a result of the use of hypodermic syringes. The Center
for Disease Control in Atlanta has extensively studied accidental
syringe sticking incidents and have logged where most of the accidents
occur and to whom. The Center's records indicate that nurses experience
more incidents than most other medical personnel.
Re-covering the needle with the plastic tip cover provided with
the syringe after use has not solved the problem since the cover
can come off or the person can be stuck by merely attempting to
place the cover on the needle. Other means presently utilized for
the disposal of used syringes still leave the steel of the hypodermic
needle on the syringe, thereby exposing the waste handlers to the
possibility of being pricked. The present syringe disposal systems
are also very expensive.
The prior art includes U.S. Pat. No. 4628169 which discloses
an apparatus for melting only the tip of the needle, with the remainder
of the metal on the syringe, which still may be contaminated, being
detached by a separate operation. That system still leaves the possibility
of the person collecting the remaining needle portion being exposed
to a disease thereon. Also, any infectious fluids are still available
to flow out of the now-open plastic portion of the syringe.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The above disadvantages of the prior art are overcome by the present
invention which comprises a device that electrically destroys the
entire steel portion of the hypodermic syringe. While applying a
safe, low voltage to the steel portion of the needle, the steel
melts below the plastic portion of the syringe, welding closed the
hollow portion of the needle to prevent any fluid in the syringe
to flow from it. The now-sterilized metal melt down is collected
for easy removal and can be discarded in a ordinary trash container.
The device comprises a housing having a battery power source, such
as a 12-volt battery, and associated circuitry. A needle burning
chamber is provided in the housing that has a stationary first electrical
contact that is mounted on one wall of the chamber. The second contact
is mounted on a needle receiving means that is movable within the
chamber from a first position adjacent an opening in another wall
of the chamber to a second position adjacent the other wall and
the first contact. The needle receiving means is normally spring-biased
in the first position. A waste receiving means is located beneath
the burning chamber. The battery can be readily or continuously
The needle receiving means comprises a metal ring to which the
second contact is connected. An opening is provided in the center
of the ring that is in registry with the opening in the burning
In operation, the power source is energized and the metal needle
portion is inserted into the needle receiving means which is then
pushed toward the back wall of the burning chamber and the first
electrical contact. When the tip of the needle engages that contact,
the needle completes the circuit and acts as a jumper between the
two electrical contacts. The current then begins to melt the needle
along its length as the needle receiving means is continually pushed
towards the first contact. The melted metal drops into the waste
receiving means to be collected at a later time.
The plastic portion of the needle is then withdrawn from the needle
receiving means. It can be retrieved for recycling.
It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide
a safe, low cost, efficient and easy to use device for the destruction
of the metal portion of a hypodermic syringe, thereby killing any
infectious virus thereon or therein.
Another object of this invention is to completely remove the metal
needle from a syringe while simultaneously sealing the plastic portion
of the syringe.
These and other advantages will be apparent from the following
description of the invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES OF DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is perspective view of the present invention with the needle
guide means and a syringe in exploded view away for clarity;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view in partial cross-section of the
FIG. 3 is a schematic of the electrical circuitry of the present
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
The numeral 10 denotes generally the present invention which comprises
a housing 12 a burning chamber 14 and waste collection means 16.
The housing 12 can be made of any suitable material, such as metal,
and is generally rectangular in shape with side walls 18 end walls
20 and top 22. A support flange 24 extends about the bottom periphery
of the housing 12 to provide stability for the device when it is
placed on a suitable support surface.
The burning chamber 14 occupies the upper quadrant of one end of
the housing 12 and preferably is constructed of a heat resistant
material. The chamber 14 is defined by side walls 26 a top 28
rear wall 30 and front wall 32. A first electrical contact 33 is
mounted on rear wall 30 in registry with an opening 34 centrally
disposed through front wall 32.
As seen more clearly in FIG. 2 a needle receiving means 36 is
provided within the chamber 14 and comprises a circular, non-conductive
plate 38 having as electrically conductive plug 40 positioned through
its center. A conical shaped port 42 is disposed through the front
face of the plug 40 adjacent wall 32 and which tapers downwardly
through the interior of the plug 40 to terminate in opening 44 which
exits the rear face of plug 40. The port 42 and opening 44 are dimensional
to receive the metal needle portion 46 the neck portion 48 and
shoulder portion 50 on body portion 51 of the hypodermic needle
52. Wire 54 connects the plug 40 with the electrical circuitry within
housing 12 through rear wall 30.
The plate 38 is mounted within the chamber 14 for movement between
a rest position adjacent opening 34 and an operative position as
shown in phantom lines in FIG. 2 at 38' adjacent the rear wall 30
along a plurality of posts 56 that extend outwardly from wall 30.
The plate 38 is normally biased in its rest position by springs
Needle guide means 60 is provided on the wall 32 exteriorly of
the chamber 14 and comprises a circular element 62 having a central
bore 64 therethrough. The element 62 is detachably mounted to the
wall 32 by means of bayonet lugs 66 which are engageable within
complementary slots 68 on wall 32. The size of bore 64 depends on
the diameter of the needle body 51 utilized. Thus, a different sized
needle 52 would require its own respective guide means 60 to be
placed on the wall 32.
The diameter of opening 44 can be of such size as to accept conventional
22-, 18-, 14- or any other gauge stainless steel needles therethrough.
Additionally, the device 10 may incorporate a plurality of needle
receiving means so that a single device 10 may be used to destroy
a number of different style and diameter needles, such as for examples
intravenous and catheter placement needles.
The waste collection means 16 is disposed beneath and in communication
with the burn chamber 14 and comprises a tray 70 that is slidably
removable from housing 12 as shown in FIG. 2. The tray 70 receives
therein the melted needles that result from the operation of the
The tray 70 is detained within the housing 12 by means of a locking
arm 72 that is operatively connected to the keylock switch 74. The
switch 74 is a safety feature, ensuring that only authorized personnel
operate the device 10. The "unlock tray" position of the
switch 74 releases the locking ar 72 and allows the tray 70 to be
A LED light 76 is positioned on top 22 that is on when the switch
74 is moved to the "ON" position. The power source is
normally a 12-volt battery 78 that is rechargeable through charging
opening 80 in side wall 18. The fuses 82 within the housing 12 are
reached through fuse opening 82. A second LED light, not shown,
may be provided to indicate that the charging circuit is in use.
To operate the device 10 a key is inserted into switch 74 which
is turned to the "ON" position, which in turn allows electricity
to flow from battery 78 to contact 33 and to plug 40. The light
76 will also be illuminated, indicating that the device 10 is operative.
The user inserts the needle 52 into bore 64 until the shoulder
50 engages the port 42. The needle portion 46 then receives current
along its length through plug 40. The position of the needle 52
at that time is shown in FIG. 2 at numeral 52'. The distance between
the contact 33 and plug 40 is at least equal to the length of the
needle portion 46 desired to be melted.
The user begins to push the needle 52 through the element 62 thereby
moving plate 38 towards wall 30 until the tip of the needle portion
46 engages contact 33. The needle portion 46 then acts as a jumper
between contact 33 and plug 40 closing the circuit and melting
the needle portion 46. Continued pushing of the needle 52 causes
the plate 38 to assume its position 38', at which time, the majority
of the metal needle portion 46 has melted off of the needle 52 and
has fallen into the tray 20.
The user then withdraws the needle 52 from the device 10 allowing
the plate 38 to assume its rest position. At that time, another
needle 52 may be inserted into the device 10 or the device 10 can
be de-energized by turning the switch 74 to the "OFF"
position. The light 76 will then go off, indicating that the device
10 is inoperative.
When enough waste has been collected in tray 70 it can be removed
by turning the switch 74 to the "UNLOCK TRAY" position.
The contents of the tray 70 are sterile, so they can be disposed
of as normal waste materials. The tray 70 will contain no sharp
metal so incidents of sticking will be minimalized or eliminated.
The remaining body portion 51 of the needle 52 can be recycled as