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1. WO1992018959 - DISPOSITIF ET PROCEDE DE CONTROLE D'UN VETEMENT PROTECTEUR

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]
MEANS AND METHOD FOR MONITORING A PROTECTIVE GARMENT
Technical Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the general art of wearing apparel, and to the particular field of protective clothing.
Background of the Invention
The present application is a continuation-in-part of patent application Serial Number 07/537,811, filed on June 14, 1990. The disclosure of this parent patent application is incorporated herein by reference.
In many industries, a worker may not want any portion of a workpiece to contact any portion of his or her skin. This situation occurs in the chemical industry as well as in several other industries. For this reason, the art contains various examples of protective apparel, such as gloves, aprons, boots, pants, smocks, face shields, gowns and the like.
As more is known of various communicable diseases, more and more workers are using such protective garments in their work. Thus, it is not uncommon to find beauticians or other such workers wearing certain type of protective wearing appar-el.
The most notable examples of the use of protective clothing are in the medical and health care field. Thus, nearly all doctors wear some sort of protective apparel when working on a patient. It is not uncommon for dentists to wear protective gloves, masks, gowns, smocks and pants while performing routine examinations and dental procedures. The use of such protection is not limited to doctors, for technicians, nurses, emergency personnel, dental hygienists, and veterinarians are but a few examples of those in the medical field who now commonly wear some sort of protective clothing while carrying out their work. This list is merely representative of the many workers who will benefit from the use of protective clothing, and many other types of workers will occur to those skilled in the art based on the teachings of this disclosure.
Of course, anyone involved in any way with laboratory work in many fields, especially the medical field, almost always wears some sort of protective clothing.

The surgeon and other operating room and hospital personnel are the most visible examples of medical personnel who wear protective clothing while working. Not only do such personnel wear protective clothing to protect a patient from contamination, with the advent of diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS and the like, many such medical workers wear protective clothing to protect themselves from contamination.
While the integrity of all such protective garments must be ensured, the surgical glove has received much attention in the art. One study has found that as much as fifty-nine percent of tested surgical gloves developed leaks when tested every fifteen minutes during surgery, and leakage occurred twenty-five percent of the time when two pairs of gloves were worn. This leakage is probably even higher for certain opera- tions, such as orthopaedic surgery, or the like. Any leakage of the surgical gloves can prove to be dangerous, and should be determined on a regular basis so the medical personnel can be warned upon the occurrence of such a breach.
Therefore, the art has included various procedures which are intended to protect the integrity of the worker's gloves, especially surgical gloves. These procedures have included requirements for a worker to change his gloves at a regular interval, or which require a worker to wear several pairs of gloves. Such procedures are not entirely successful because they interrupt the worker from his work and break his concentration. Furthermore, wearing several pairs of gloves may interfere with proper performance of the task. Even then, as the above-mentioned study found, the worker may not be fully protected.
Thus, the art has also included devices and systems which are intended to detect breaches in a worker's gloves. One such system is disclosed in U.S. Patent 4,321,925. The device disclosed in this patent is intended to continuously monitor a surgeon's gloves to warn of any perforations in those gloves. This device includes a contact on the patient, a contact on the surgeon, and an electrical path through the doctor's shoe, and through the operating room floor to and through the base of the operating table and to and through the table.
While this device overcomes some of the above-mentioned
problems, it still has several drawbacks, as discussed in the
parent application.
5 While ensuring the integrity of a worker's gloves is
quite important, due to the highly contagious and dangerous
nature of many diseases and many chemicals, integrity monitoring of a workers's gloves alone may not be sufficient protection. In many situations, including a surgical operating room,

10 any physical contact with the workpiece may prove to be dangerous.
Therefore, even beyond the drawbacks and problems mentioned for the known glove testers per se, they may have
shortcomings in that they do not monitor all of the protective

15 clothing being worn by a worker. Should that worker have a
breach in his or her face mask, for example, such breach can
be dangerous if the worker must bring his or her face in close proximity to a patient, for example to perform the work, as
might be the case of an ambulance worker who must find and
0 grasp a patient's tongue to prevent choking.
Yet another system for monitoring personnel barriers,
such as surgical gloves, is disclosed in U.S. Patent
4,956,635. This system includes a pair of comparitors to
monitor the integrity of a barrier. This system monitors
5 probes mounted on the doctor and probes mounted on both the
doctor and on the patient. A blinking light indicates that the probes are mounted on the doctor, and a steady light indicates that a breach through the doctor's glove has occurred. The
status signal of the system is continuously monitored by the 0 health care worker.
While this system is somewhat successful in overcoming
some of the problems associated with protective gloves, is
_)
still suffers from several drawbacks that may inhibit its full acceptance by health care workers. For example, the use of
5 comparitors by this patented system may create several problems.
For example, a co paritor is a device whose output switches between two possible values depending on the value of the input voltage relative to a reference voltage value. Thus, in the case of the patented system, if the value of voltage applied to the input connection of the comparitor is higher than the value of the reference voltage applied to the refer- ence connection of the comparitor, the comparitor will not generate a triggering signal. On the other hand, if the input voltage drops below the reference voltage, the comparitor will generate a triggering signal. However, such operation provides a range of values that will not trigger the comparitor signal, yet may still be in a problem area. That is, should there be a small leak through a glove, for example, while the voltage applied to the input connection of the comparitor may fall, that voltage may not fall far enough to trigger the comparitor signal. Therefore, a situation may occur in which the worker will want to know of a problem, or of at least a developing problem, yet may not be warned since the problem is not acute enough to trigger the comparitor signal. The system therefore is not accurate and precise and will not produce fully repeat- able results thereby vitiating some of the advantages attrib- uted thereto.
Still further, a comparitor may generate false signals, especially if the input voltage is very close to the reference voltage. In such a case, the comparitor may cycle repeatedly as the input voltage reaches and exceeds the reference volt- age. Still further, since the comparitor is a voltage-driven device, it may be subject to still other errors due to stray and/or static voltages, induced voltages, voltage surges and transients as well as voltage spikes that occur in the circuit due to various elements that are external to the conditions being monitored. One example of this, might be when certain electrical equipment near the comparitor is turned on. Such equipment may induce a voltage surge in the comparitor that either falsely triggers it or falsely prevents it from triggering. In either case, the results provided by the comparitor may tend to vitiate confidence in the system. If the worker is not fully confident in the operation of the system, that worker may tend to ignore a warning signal when that signal should be heeded.
Still further, a comparitor may not react quickly to a problem. If a surgical glove springs a leak, the surgeon will want to know about it as quickly as possible. A comparitor may not react quickly enough to totally prevent the surgeon's hand from becoming contaminated.
Since a comparitor is a voltage-driven device, yet another problem with comparitors occurs because a patient may be exposed to a voltage. Even though the voltage is not high, if a surgeon touches a patient's vital organ, such as a heart, and any voltage is shunted to his gloved hand from the comparitor, that organ can be damaged.
Yet another problem with comparitors occurs because any current associated with the triggering signal must be ampli-fied in order to operate many signalling devices. For example, if a signalling device includes a coil, the current associated with a comparitor trigger signal may not be sufficient to operate and hold the coil in an operative position.
Still another problem with comparitors is associated with the circuitry that is necessary to operate those devices. If additional workers are involved with a certain procedure, or if additional workpieces are involved, the system disclosed in the 4,956,635 patent is not easily modified to accommodate such additional workers or workpieces. In fact, it is likely that such additional workers or workpieces will have to have their own monitoring systems. Such a proliferation of monitoring systems may be expensive and may actually interfere with an on-going operation or procedure. In the case of a surgical procedure, several surgeons, several nurses and several tech-nicians may all be involved with one or more patients. If each of these individuals must have their own monitoring system, the overall operating room may become jammed with the monitoring equipment.
Another problem with the patented system is the need stated in the patent for the worker to continuously monitor the system. This requirement may divert some of the worker's attention from his task. Divided attention from the worker may not be desirable, and may be dangerous in some instances.
Other systems for monitoring a glove require the wearer to immerse his gloved hand into a vat of liquid to conduct an integrity check. As was discussed in the parent application, this requirement is cumbersome and may interrupt a work process. Such interruption of work process may not be desirable, and may inhibit acceptance of the system. Still further, many of these systems use an alarm element connected directly to the circuit. These alarm elements are often resistance-type devices that will emit a weak signal as voltage begins to build up; and will emit a strong signal as voltage increases. The signal is thus not repeatable since there can be a variation in when it becomes loud or strong enough to be detected. Therefore, these systems are subject to being considered inaccurate since one person may hear an audible alarm while others may not hear the alarm depending on the acuteness of the person's hearing and his proximity to the alarm device. Still further, since these systems may depend on the voltage drop across the alarm building up to a predetermined level, the system may not be rapid enough for many purposes.
Therefore, there is a need for a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such of such breach, and which can be used to monitor all of the protective cloth-ing worn by a worker, and which is adaptable to a wide variety of situations and environments, does not require the worker to stop work to check the integrity of the clothing or of the monitoring network, yet which provides repeatable, accurate and precise results and which is easily transported and stored, and which is easily adjusted, donned and is still inexpensive for use by any number of workers and workpieces.
The system disclosed in the parent application overcomes the problems discussed above, and fulfills the just-mentioned needs. However, even this system can be improved. Specifical-ly, the disclosed system can be improved by adding means to signal if a contact has come out of electrical contact with either the worker or the workpiece whereby the network conti- nuity is assured. Still further, the disclosed system can be improved by adding means for easily expanding the system to simultaneously monitor several workers and several workpieces without unduly complicating the overall system or adversely affecting the integrity of the system or vitiating the use of the system.
Objects of the Invention
It is a main object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately on the occurrence of such breach.
It is another object of the present invention to improve the system disclosed in the parent application.
It is another object of the present invention to improve the system disclosed in the parent application to warn of any non-secure contact on either a worker or on a workpiece.
It is another object of the present invention to improve the system disclosed in the parent application to permit the system to be easily expanded to accommodate a plurality of workers and/or a plurality of workpieces.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately on the occurrence of such breach and to provide a rapid signal of such breach.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that is not susceptible to false signals.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that is not susceptible to interference, especially from external sources. It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that is accurate, precise and repeatable.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that will not expose the workpiece to high voltage.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that will not expose the workpiece to voltage associated with a voltage source of the system.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing in a manner that is not susceptible to stray voltage signals.
It is a specific object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing using current-driven elements.
It is another specific object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective cloth- ing to detect any breach in such clothing using transistors.
It is another specific object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing using a network that includes buses for connecting further monitoring elements thereto.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and which is adaptable to a wide variety of situations and environments.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and does not require the worker to stop work or divert his attention from his work.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and which is easily transported and stored.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and which is easily adjusted.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and which is inexpensive to manufacture, use and modify.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a system for continuously monitoring protective clothing to detect any breach in such clothing immediately upon occurrence of such breach and which rapidly generates a signal that is repeatably emitted at the same level of breach each time.
Summary of the Invention
These, and other, objects are achieved by a portable system and method for continuously monitoring protective clothing and which includes contacts that are placed directly on both a worker and on the workpiece and that are connected by a network that rapidly, accurately and repeatable responds to any breach in that clothing and to any errors in the set-up of the network. The network includes a portable unit that can be releasably attached to a worker and which has current-driven elements that generate current immediately upon the occurrence of a breach in the clothing or upon one or more leads becoming non-securely attached to a worker or to a workpiece. Alarm devices are also mounted on the worker-at-tachable portable unit.
Specifically, the current-driven elements include transistors, and, most specifically, such transistors can be selected to have gains of 25,000. Sensitivity-adjusting means, such as a rheostat-type device or jumper circuits can also be included. The signal element includes an audible and/or a visual element. More specifically, the signal element in one embodiment includes a relay-type element whereby actuation of the alarm is rapid and repeatable and does not depend on a voltage build up in the manner of a resistor-type element.
The electrical leads connecting the contacts to the portable unit are fully insulated, and are connected directly to the worker and to the workpiece. Thus, the overall network is not subject to outside influences which may alter or affect the sensitivity, accuracy or repeatability of the overall device.
Due to the fully insulated and portable nature of the device, it can be used in a wide variety of situations and environments to continuously monitor a large variety of different protective clothing garments for a variety of different workers and workpieces. The device is easily transported and stored, yet is quickly and easily donned by a worker and thus is not likely to interfere with a work procedure, especially in an emergency situation.
The device can be used to monitor any protective clothing worn by a worker in any environment or situation and can do so in a continuous, accurate and repeatable manner and will react quickly and precisely to the occurrence of a problem either with the integrity of the protective clothing or with the connection of the network to either the worker or to the workpiece. The reaction is rapid and can include the use of relays or relay-type devices to operate a variety of signal- ling or recording devices. The system elements are not susceptible to generating false alarms, and are not likely to expose a worker or a workpiece to high voltage. The system uses transistors that require only a very minimal voltage to switch from a cutoff state to an active or a saturated state. Once in an active state, current associated with the transistor can be quite large as determined by a current gain constant associated with the transistor. Since only minimal voltage is required, a worker or a workpiece is not likely to be exposed to large voltages, and due to the large current gains associated with transistors, devices, such as relays, that may require fairly high currents to operate, can be used in the network.
Still further, reaction times associated with transistors are extremely fast so the network of the present invention can have an extremely fast reaction time. Also, due to the current amplification associated with transistors, the alarm devices can be set to react quickly, surely, and quite accurately. Such alarm devices can be designed to activate only at extremely precise and, perhaps, high, levels of current flow, and to do so in an extremely effective manner.
The portable unit can be encased in a special container and can be worn by the worker in a location that is not likely to expose that portable unit to contact with the workpiece or any portion thereof, while the remaining elements of the network are releasably connected to that portable unit. The remaining elements of the network, including insulated wires and contacts, are relatively inexpensive and thus can be discarded and replaced if exposed to contact with the workpiece. If one of these elements is damaged or contaminated, it is easily and quickly replaced. Thus, for example, in an operating room, if fluids from a patient contact the insulated wires of the device, these wires can simply be discarded after the operation is completed and new wires used without incurring undue expense or time. In an ambulance, spare wires and contacts can be carried in case of damage.
Still further, additional workers and additional workpieces can be added to the monitoring network in a quick and expeditious manner without requiring system modification. The network of the present invention includes a bus from both terminals of the power source associated therewith, and additional worker monitoring circuits and additional workpiece monitoring circuits can simply be connected to an appropriate side of the power source via the appropriate bus. Even with the addition of workers and/or workpieces, the overall accuracy, precision, simplicity and reliability of the monitoring network will not be adversely affected. This feature is especially important in the health care field where several doc-tors, nurses, and technicians may be involved with a single patient, or one health care provider may be involved with several patients, or several health care providers can be involved with several patients. All patients and health care providers can be connected to a single monitoring network and any breach in any clothing or any misconnection to any patient or to any worker will be quickly, surely and accurately iden- tified.
Brief Description of the Drawing Figures
Figure l illustrates the device of present invention connected to a worker and to a workpiece.
Figure 2 is a block diagram of the overall system embody- ing the device of the present invention.
Figure 3 is a circuit diagram of device of the present invention.
Figure 3A is a circuit diagram of the device of the present invention in a circuit configuration that occurs when all contacts are securely connected to both the worker and to the workpiece.
Figure 3B is a circuit diagram of the device of the present invention in a circuit configuration that occurs when one of the contacts has come loose from the worker.
Figure 3C is a circuit diagram of the device of the present invention in a circuit configuration that occurs when one of the contacts has come loose from the workpiece.
Figure 3D illustrates a Darlington configuration of two BJT transistors.
Figure 3E illustrates the circuit shown in Figure 3 with additional contact continuity ensuring circuits and an additional glove integrity ensuring circuit connected to a common source via buses.
Figure 4 is a circuit diagram of the device of the pres-ent invention in which various alarm elements are included.
Figure 5 illustrates an alternative form of the basic circuit shown in Figure 3.
Figure 6A illustrates an alternative to the workpiece-attached circuit shown in Figure 3.
Figure 6B illustrates an alternative to the worker-attached circuit shown in Figure 3.
Figure 7 illustrates a start-up system integrity checking circuit .
Figure 8 illustrates an alternative form of the basic network shown in Figure 3 with a plurality of worker-attached circuits and a plurality of workpiece-attached circuits all combined into one network.
Figure 9 illustrates a battery monitoring circuit.
Figure 10 illustrates a surgical application of the device of the present invention.
Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiment of the Inven-tion
Shown in Figure 1 is a worker 10 carrying out a procedure on a workpiece 12. The workpiece 12 is shown in general block form as it can be an inanimate object, such as a chemical or biological experiment, a quality control operation or the like, as well as an animate object such as a human or an animal. Various applications will occur to those skilled in the art based on the teaching of the present disclosure, and thus the specific examples provided herein are not intended to be limiting, but only examples.
A system 14 is shown in Figure 1 for electrically connecting the worker 10 to the workpiece 12, and embodies the present invention. The system 14 includes a portable unit 16 having a housing 17 which contains a power source (not shown in Figure l) , and various circuit elements connecting that power source to an audible alarm element 18 and/or to a visible alarm element 20. A sensitivity-adjusting element 22 and an on/off switch can be used to connect the power source to the remainder of the circuit. A spring-type clip 26 is mounted on the housing to releasably attach the portable unit to the worker as in his pocket, on his belt or the like.
A first electrical contact element 28 is electrically attached to the worker in a location that will not interfere with his work, as on his ankle 30, or the like, and is connected to the circuit in the portable unit by a first fully insulated wire 32 that is releasably connected to that circuit via a jack-like connection 34. The electrical contact is in direct, electrical contact with the worker. Suitable means, such as used in connecting EKG electrodes, can be used to attach the contact to the worker or to the workpiece. In fact, one form of the present invention includes EKG electrodes as the contacts to the worker and to the workpiece.
A second electrical contact element 36 is electrically, and directly, connected to the workpiece and is connected to the circuit elements in the portable unit by a second fully insulated electrical wire 38. The second wire is releasably connected to that circuit via a jack-like connection 40.
The worker 10 is shown wearing various items of protective clothing, such as gloves, such as surgical gloves G, boots, such as boot B, a smock or gown S, pants P, an apron A, a face covering such as mask M or the like. As will be understood from the ensuing discussion, the protective clothing worn by the worker is electrically insulating, and prevents electrical contact between the worker and the workpiece, and, hence, the contact 36. However, should any part of the worker contacts any portion of the workpiece in a manner that completes the electrical circuit as via a breach in that protec- tive clothing, there will be electrical contact between the contact elements 28 and 36 thereby completing the circuit and activating the alarm element or elements.
Figure 2 illustrates the overall network 41 in block diagram form, and shows a power source 42 connected to the circuit 44. The jack-type connections 34 and 40 as well as wires 32 and 38 and the contact elements 28 and 36 are all fully electrically insulated to prevent the overall electrical characteristics of the network 41 from being altered by the influence of outside forces, such as accidental contact with electrically conductive elements or contact with materials that may change their electrical characteristics. Furthermore, such insulation works in conjunction with the other features of the network to prevent false signals from being generated by stray voltage inducing fields or the like in the environ-ment.
The circuit 44 is shown in Figure 3 as including a current-driven current amplifier device 46 connected to the power source by line conductors 48 and 50 as well as to common point 52. The preferred form of the current amplifier device includes an NPN transistor 54 and has a gain of at least 25,000. A resistor 56 is also included in the circuit. The circuit can also include a sensitivity-adjusting element 22 that includes a rheostat-type device 58. An alarm element and switch are indicated in Figure 3 as block A,. As discussed in the parent application, this alarm element and switch are activated by current associated with the transistor 54 going into the active state. The alarm and switch A, will be discussed in greater detail below.
As can be understood from Figure 3, the contacts 28 and 36 are electrically spaced apart from each other in a normal mode of operation. In such condition, the NPN transistor is biased to have the emitter at negative voltage of the power source whereby the base-emitter voltage (vBE) is less than the critical voltage necessary to activate or saturate the transistor, so that transistor is in a cutoff mode. When the transistor is in the cutoff mode, no current flows to the alarm and switch An, and no power is supplied from the source 42 to the alarm element. However, electrically connecting contacts 28 and 36 places the base of the transistor at a voltage potential higher than the critical voltage with respect to the emitter whereby the transistor goes into an active mode, and generates a quantity of current determined by the current gain of that transistor. Such current can be quite high, and is high enough to activate a coil that might be associated with the alarm element A,, and cause the switch to close thereby completing an electrical path between the alarm elements and the power source to activate such alarm elements. The sensitivity of the circuit can be adjusted by element 58 so that the alarm elements will be activated according to the desired amount of current flowing between contacts 28 and 36. The power source can be a nine volt battery or less if suitable. The on/off switch is shown adjacent to the power source, but could be included in any suitable location in the circuit. An alternative form of the amplifier can include a

16
Darlington configuration D as shown in Figure 3D.
As shown in Figure 3, the circuit 44 also includes a workpiece contact continuity ensuring circuit 60 having an alarm and switch element Ag therein, and a worker contact continuity ensuring circuit 62 having an alarm and switch element Ag therein. The continuity ensuring circuits are connected to the power source 42 and biased accordingly. The continuity ensuring circuits include transistors that have the emitters thereof connected to the power source and the bases thereof connected to the contact. The transistors are connected in a manner such that when the bases are in electrical contact with the worker or the workpiece, the transistors are biased into the cutoff state, and when one of the contacts comes loose from the worker or from the workpiece the transistor associated therewith is biased into the active state. Each continuity ensuring circuit also includes an LED, such as LED 63 in circuit 60 and LED 64 in circuit 62. These LEDs can emit a visible signal as soon as current moves through the associated transistor.
In the preferred embodiment of the circuit 44, the circuit 60 includes an NPN transistor 65 having the emitter thereof connected to the lead 50 to be connected to the negative side of the power source, and the circuit 62 includes a PNP transistor 66 having the emitter thereof connected to lead 48 to be connected to the positive side of the power source. These configurations biases the transistors so that emitter to base voltages vBE65 is less than the critical voltage necessary to drive the transistor 65 into the active state when the base B65 is connected to the contact 3665 via the contact 36^ and the workpiece. Likewise, the base voltage to emitter voltage vEB of the PNP transistor 66 will be less than the critical voltage necessary to drive the transistor 66 into the active state when the base B66 thereof is connected to the contact 2866 via the contact 28555 and the worker. However, as soon as one of the contacts 3665B, 3665, 28^ or 2866 comes loose, the biasing on the transistor reverses, and exceeds the critical value necessary to drive the transistor into the active state.

As soon as the transistor moves into the active state, the LED and alarm system associated therewith receives current, and is activated. Such conditions are indicated in Figures 3B and 3C in which contact 3665 on the workpiece has come loose in Figure 3B, and contact 2866B has come loose from the worker in Figure 3C. The circuit configurations will be the same if the contacts 3665B or 2866 come loose. In any instance, power from the source 42 is applied to the alarm and switch elements. These transistors 65 and 66 can have gains of 25,000 and thus can have a great deal of current associated therewith when they move into the active state so that the alarm and switch elements associated therewith can be selected from a wide range of elements, even those elements that require a great deal of current to operate.
As is also shown in Figure 3, the circuit 44 further includes a bus 42BP connected to the positive side of the power source 42, and a bus 42BN connected to the negative side of the power source 42. A further bus 36B is connected to the base of the transistor 54 to permit the further circuits, such as circuit 60, to be added. These buses can be used to connect further contact continuity ensuring circuits and further glove integrity circuits 46 to the same power source 42. One need only attach the additional circuits to the appropriate bus and the single power source 42 can be used to power all of the circuits. Connecting such further circuits to the circuit 44 is quick and easy and does not require a great deal of skill. The additional circuits are identical to the circuits shown in Figure 3 and all of the elements thereof are identical to those circuits. Therefore, no specific discussion will be presented, and the circuit elements are identified by a prime notation to indicate elements in the additional circuits that are identical to the above-discussed elements in the initial circuits. The various circuits are connected to the basic bus 42BN at connections, such as connections A and B.
The additional circuits can be only continuity ensuring circuits, only glove integrity ensuring circuits, or a combination thereof as suitable. An example of such additional circuit connections is illustrated in Figure 3E in which an additional workpiece circuit 60A is connected to the power source and an additional worker circuit 62A is also connected to the power source.
The alarm and switch elements can include relays and coils as indicated in Figure 4. As shown in Figure 4, a coil 67 is associated with each transistor and receives current as soon as the associated transistor moves into the active state. A contact 68 is associated with each coil 67 and is moved as soon as the coil 67 associated therewith receives current. A second contact 69 is positioned adjacent to the contacts 68, and is contacted by the contact 68 as soon as that contact 68 moves under the influence of the associated coil 67. These contacts are all part of circuits that connect an alarm element, such as a horn 70, to the power source 42 when the contacts 68 and 69 are in electrical contact with each other. Thus, the horn 70 will be activated when any of the transistors 54, 65 or 66 move into the active state. Further alarm indicators, such as lights 72, 74 and 76 can also be included in the alarm circuits. These lights can be various colors so that the workers will immediately know which contact is loose. Still further, circuits, such as circuits 78 and 80 can be included in the alarm circuits to cause the horn 70 to beep when the contacts are loose; whereas, the horn will emit a continuous sound when the glove has been breached. Each alarm and switch element can have its own color or beeping frequency whereby when a plurality of workers or workpieces are being monitored the particular contact that is loose can be identified without requiring all workers or workpieces to be
checked. One single horn sound will be used in the preferred embodiment to require all workers to change their gloves if any one of the gloves is breached. This adds an element of security to the overall system. Of course, based on the teaching of the present disclosure, one skilled in the art could add special circuit elements, such as circuit element 82 to emit a special colored light or to cause the horn to sound at a special frequency for certain gloves and different light colors or different frequencies for different gloves. Many forms of relay-type devices can be used if suitable.
One alternative form of the basic network is illustrated in Figure 5 as network 44R, and is similar to the basic net-work 44. As shown in Figure 5, resistor 100 is connected between base B65 and lead 48, and a relay coil Ry-1 is included in place of alarm Ag. Similarly, a resistor 102 is included in the worker-contacting circuit with a relay-type device Ry-3 substituted for alarm A3. The network 44R also includes a relay device Ry-2 connected between the emitter of transistor 54R and lead 50. A manually operated on/off switch 104 connects the power source 42 to lead 50 when closed. In all important respects, the network 44R is similar to network 44 discussed above.
As discussed above, several workers and/or several workpieces can be connected to the same basic network by simply connecting additional circuits to the basic bus 42BP. A workpi-eσe-attached circuit 106 is illustrated in Figure 6A, and a worker-attached circuit 108 is illustrated in Figure 6B. As illu-strated in both of these figures, the leads 4870, 5070 and 4872 5072 are connected to bus 42BN at locations A and B. A combined circuit 44C is shown in Figure 8 wherein two workpiece monitoring circuits and two worker-monitoring circuits are connected to the basic circuit either by separate leads, such as illustrated in Figure 8 by leads 110, 112, 114 and 116, or by bus 42BN.
Also illustrated in Figures 7 and 8 is a system integrity checking circuit 120. The circuit 120 is activated at start-up and causes the alarm circuit 46 to activate when the on/off switch 104 is initially closed to turn on the system. The circuit 120 includes a capacitor 122 and a resistor 124 and a diode and has leads 126 and 128 connected to contacts 3665 and 2866 respectively. A normally closed switch 130 is connected around the capacitor 122. The switch 130 is ganged to the on/off switch 104 to open when switch 104 is closed and to close when switch 104 is open. As can be understood from
Figures 7 and 8, when the system is in the "off" mode, switch 104 is open and switch 130 is closed. Closing switch 130 causes the capacitor 122 to discharge while the overall network is shut down. However, upon initially activating the network by closing on/off switch 104, the switch 130 opens. The capacitor 122 acts as a short circuit connecting the contact 2856 to the contact 3665. This connection causes the alarm circuit 46 to activate thereby generating a signal from alarm element At. However, the capacitor 130 eventually changes and acts as an open circuit thereby disconnecting the contacts 28^ and 3665 to place the overall network in its normal monitoring mode. The time required for the capacitor 122 to open is a function of the RC time constant associated with the capacitor 122 and the resistor 124, and can be set by appropriately selecting these two elements. The initial activation of the alarm circuit indicates that all circuits and power sources are in proper working order.
A battery monitoring circuit 150 is shown in Figure 9 and is connected to leads 48 and 50 at locations A and B across power source 42. The monitoring circuit 150 includes a compar- itor 152 that compares battery voltage to a reference zenner diode 154. When battery voltage drops below a set level, an LED 156 is activated. An audible signal can be used as well.
It is noted that the circuit 44C shown in Figure 8 is an alternate form of the basic network and includes a plurality of capacitors, such as capacitor 158, connected around each transistor to prevent RF energy from interfering with the operation of the transistors or the network.
The network 44C also includes a feedback circuit 160 that includes a transistor 162 having the collector 164 thereof connected to the base lead 38, and the emitter 166 thereof connected to lead 50. The base 168 thereof is connected via a diode 170 and a resistor 172 to the transistor 54. Capacitors 174 are also connected around the transistor 162 to prevent RF energy from interfering with the operation of the feedback circuit.
A further alternative of the network includes a variable resistor 180 which is used to adjust the sensitivity of the network. The resistor 180 can also be a jump element that is attached to the circuit as required or replaced as necessary to adjust the sensitivity of the network.
A specific application of the device 14 is shown in
Figure 10 wherein a surgeon 10' is performing surgery on a patient 12'. The surgeon is wearing surgical gloves G' and a disposable cuff 90 is attached to his ankle 30' by hook-and- loop fastening elements 91 and places contact in electrical and direct contact with the surgeon's body. A second dispos-able cuff 92 is attached to the patient's ankle by a hook-and-loop fastening means 93 or by an EKG-type connector, and places contact 36 in direct and electrical contact with the patient's body. The contacts are connected to the circuit 44 contained in the portable unit 16 that is shown in Figure 10 as being worn on the surgeon's belt by fully insulated wires 32 and 38 that are releasably connected to the circuit by jack-like connections 34 and 40 as above discussed.
During surgery, the surgeon is required to place his hands onto and inside the patient, as shown in Figure 10, and thus expose his hands to the body and the bodily fluids of the patient. The circuit 44 monitors the integrity of the gloves so that any breach in the glove will cause the alarm of the circuit to be activated to alert the surgeon of the breach. Furthermore, the circuit 44 alerts the surgeon if the contact on his own body or the contact on the patient comes loose.
Should a contact become loose, the circuit 44 will activate the horn, or a beeper or a light or a combination thereof to alert him that the circuit is not properly connected. Obviously, an improperly connected circuit may not properly monitor the gloves, or other apparel, for a breach, and the worker should be notified of such improper connection at the earliest possible time. As above discussed, other workers or other workpieces can be added by simply adding further continuity ensuring circuits to the circuit 44 by connecting such further continuity ensuring circuits to the bus 42BP or to the 42BN.
The sensitivity of the circuit can be adjusted so that any breach or any loss in electrical contact between the