(19)
(11)EP 2 769 674 A2

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
27.08.2014 Bulletin 2014/35

(21)Application number: 14169296.2

(22)Date of filing:  09.09.2008
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A61B 5/15(2006.01)
A61M 5/50(2006.01)
A61M 5/32(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 07.03.2008 US 44469
08.09.2008 US 206299

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
08873076.7 / 2252212

(71)Applicant: Becton, Dickinson and Company
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey 07417-1880 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Jamieson Crawford
    NJ, 07627 Demarest (US)
  • Robert Ellis
    NJ, 07470 Wayne (US)
  • Bradley M. Wilkinson
    NJ, 07508 North Haledon (US)
  • Benjamin Bartfeld
    NJ, 07456 Ringwood (US)
  • Mark C. Newby
    NY, 10987 Tuxedo (US)
  • Chee Leong Alvin Tan
    510225 Singapore (SG)
  • Jon Moh
    681683 Singapore (SG)
  • Stanley Sim
    81000 Kulai, Johor (MY)
  • Yu Leng Neville Chia
    120110 Singapore (SG)

(74)Representative: Von Kreisler Selting Werner - Partnerschaft von Patentanwälten und Rechtsanwälten mbB 
Deichmannhaus am Dom Bahnhofsvorplatz 1
50667 Köln
50667 Köln (DE)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 21-05-2014 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)Safety blood collection assembly with indicator


(57) A blood collection assembly includes a housing and a cannula extending distally from the housing including a patient end, and a cannula shield removably engaged with a portion of the housing. The cannula shield is capable of shielding at least the patient end of the cannula, and includes a safety shield engagement. The assembly includes a pivoting safety shield engaged with a portion of the housing, which is transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end of the cannula is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end of the cannula is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield. The safety shield includes at least one locking tab releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement, wherein the locking tab is fixedly engageable with a portion of the housing in the extended position.


Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] The present application claims priority to United States Patent Application Serial No. 12/044,469 filed March 7, 2008, which claims priority to United States Provisional Application Serial No. 60/941,870 filed June 4, 2007, and United States Provisional Application Serial No. 60/893,519 filed March 7, 2007, the entire disclosure of each application is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention



[0002] The present invention relates generally to shieldable safety needle assemblies and, more particularly, to needle assemblies having a housing, a needle cannula, and a shield restrainably engaged with a portion of the housing.

Description of Related Art



[0003] Typical needle assemblies include a needle cannula having a proximal end, a pointed distal end with a puncture tip, and a lumen extending therebetween. A thermoplastic hub is often mounted securely to the needle cannula at a location spaced apart from the distal end. The hub is typically provided with external threads or other surface configurations for mounting the needle cannula to another structure. Some needle assemblies are used for drawing a specimen, such as a sample of blood or other bodily fluid, from a patient.

[0004] A needle assembly that is used to draw a sample of blood or other bodily fluid is typically used in association with a housing. Needle cannulae used in association with these assemblies typically have pointed proximal and distal ends, and the needle hub is mounted to a location between the opposed ends of the needle cannula. The housing typically includes a substantially tubular sidewall with a widely opened proximal end, and a partly closed distal end. The hub of the prior art needle assembly can be engaged with the partly closed distal end of the needle holder. Thus, the pointed proximal end of the needle cannula projects into the needle holder for engagement with an evacuated tube, while the pointed distal end of the needle cannula projects distally beyond the needle holder for puncturing the patient's skin.

[0005] The needle assembly is often used with a specimen collection tube for drawing a sample of blood or other bodily fluid from a patient. The specimen collection tube typically includes a closed end, an open end, and a sidewall extending therebetween. The tube is typically evacuated, and the open end is sealed by a septum that retains the vacuum within the tube. The evacuated tube is dimensioned to be slid into the open proximal end of the needle holder. Sufficient sliding of the evacuated tube into the needle holder causes the proximal point of the needle cannula to pierce the septum of the evacuated tube. Thus, the needle cannula can be placed in communication with the interior of the evacuated tube.

[0006] The combined needle assembly and evacuated tube is employed by initially urging the pointed distal end of the needle cannula into a blood vessel of a patient. Once the targeted blood vessel has been accessed, the evacuated tube is urged into the needle holder such that the proximal point of the needle cannula pierces the septum of the tube. Low pressure conditions within the evacuated tube, as well as the patient's own vasculature pressure, generate a flow of blood from the patient through the needle cannula and into the evacuated tube. The evacuated tube may be removed from the needle holder after a sufficient quantity of blood has been collected. One or more additional evacuated tubes may similarly be urged into the open end of the needle holder for drawing one or more additional samples of blood to be analyzed. The needle cannula is then withdrawn from the patient after a sufficient volume of blood has been collected for the required analytical procedure. In order to reduce the risk of an accidental needle stick, or contact that could transmit pathogens from the patient to the medical practitioner, the needle cannula must be properly shielded after contact with the patient.

[0007] Many types of devices are available for shielding a used needle cannula. Example shielding devices include those disclosed in United States Patent Nos. 5,348,544; 5,242,417; 6,592,556; 6,635,032; and 7,001,363, the entire disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference. Most shielded needle assemblies are effective at performing their primary function, i.e., shielding a used needle cannula. However, many medical practitioners consider the available shieldable needle assemblies cumbersome. Additionally, in some cases, practitioners may be rushing and forget to operate the safety shield. Other situations arise where the patient moves suddenly or unexpectedly. Thus, the needle cannula may inadvertently be pulled out of the vein and exposed with no time for the phlebotomist to initiate safety shielding.

[0008] Another problem with many prior art blood collection devices relates to the time required to assure venous entry. In particular, blood will begin to flow through the cannula upon entry of the intravenous or distal end of the cannula into the vein. However, air present in the cannula, and in the multiple sample sleeve that covers the non-patient end of the cannula, will resist the flow of blood into and through the cannula. In response, the medical practitioner will typically urge an evacuated tube into the needle holder once the practitioner is reasonably sure that the vein has been entered. The rubber stopper at the end of the evacuated tube will deform the multiple sample sleeve over the non-patient end of the cannula and will permit the non-patient end of the cannula to enter the evacuated tube. The pressure differential between the evacuated tube and the cannula will cause the blood to flow into the evacuated tube. In conventional needle assemblies, this often provides the first visual assurance that the vein has been accessed properly.

[0009] However, there are many instances in which a medical practitioner will properly access a vein with the distal end of the needle cannula, but will mistakenly believe that the vein has not been entered. Hence, the practitioner will make a second attempt to access the vein. This adds to the discomfort for the patient, extends the time required to carry out a blood collection procedure, and increases the risk for accidental contact between the medical practitioner and a cannula that has been exposed to the patient's blood. Additionally, in some instances a passive shielding mechanism will be activated when the cannula is withdrawn from the patient, thereby making the needle cannula unusable and requiring the medical practitioner to obtain a new needle assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0010] A need continues to exist for safety needle assemblies incorporating at least one or both a visual flash indicator and a safety shield that can be transitioned from a retracted position in which the tip of a needle cannula is exposed, to an extended position in which the tip of the needle cannula is shielded, which minimizes the risk of exposure to medical personnel, is convenient to use, and is cost-effective.

[0011] In one embodiment of the present invention, a needle assembly includes a housing having a distal end, and a proximal end engageable with a specimen collection container. The housing includes a cannula extending distally from the housing, with the cannula having a patient end. A cannula shield is removably engaged with a portion of the housing, and is capable of shielding at least the patient end of the cannula. The cannula shield includes a safety shield engagement. The needle assembly further includes a pivoting safety shield engaged with a portion of the housing and transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end of the cannula is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end of the cannula is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield. The safety shield includes at least one locking tab releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement, with the locking tab fixedly engageable with a portion of the housing in the extended position.

[0012] In one configuration, the pivoting safety shield is transitionable from a restrained position in which the locking tab is engaged with the safety shield engagement, to the retracted position. Removal of the cannula shield from the housing allows for transition of the pivoting safety shield from the retracted position to the extended position. Optionally, the housing may further include a flash indicator, and the cannula interior may be provided in fluid communication with the flash indicator. The flash indicator may be visible in the retracted position, and the pivoting safety shield may be disposed over the patient end of the cannula and the locking tab may engage at least a portion of the flash indicator in the extended position. Alternatively, the housing may further include a flash indicator, with the cannula interior in fluid communication with the flash indicator, with the flash indicator visible in the retracted position, and wherein the pivoting safety shield is disposed over the patient end of the cannula and the locking tab engages a portion of the housing distal to the flash indicator in the extended position.

[0013] In yet another configuration, the housing may include a forward hub portion and a rear hub portion connectable with the forward hub portion and defining a flash indicator therebetween. Optionally, the safety shield engagement is a ridge projecting dorsally from an outer surface of the cannula shield. The safety shield engagement may also extend substantially longitudinally along the cannula shield. The ridge may include a beveled edge and the locking tab may include an engagement surface corresponding to the beveled edge to provide a resistance interference therebetween. Alternatively, the locking tab may include a beveled edge and the ridge may include an engagement surface corresponding to the beveled edge to provide a resistance interference therebetween.

[0014] In yet a further configuration, at least a portion of the ridge is engageable with at least a portion of the locking tab in a detent arrangement to restrain the pivoting safety shield with the cannula shield. The detent arrangement may be adapted to resist disengagement until a force is imparted to the pivoting safety shield in a manner capable of moving the pivoting safety shield from the restrained position to the retracted position. The detent arrangement resists unintentional removal of the cannula shield from the housing. Release of the detent arrangement allows the pivoting safety shield to pivot from a restrained position to the retracted position.

[0015] In another embodiment of the present invention, a needle assembly includes a housing, having a distal end, and a proximal end, and a cannula extending distally from the housing. The cannula includes a patient end. The assembly also includes a pivoting safety shield fixedly engaged with a portion of the housing. The safety shield is transitionable over the cannula from a retracted position in which the patient end is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield. The assembly also includes a cannula shield releasably engaged with a portion of the housing and shielding at least the patient end of the cannula. The cannula shield includes a safety shield engagement, and the pivoting safety shield is releasably engaged with the safety shield engagement, wherein removal of the cannula shield from the housing allows for transition of the safety shield from the retracted position to the extended position.

[0016] Optionally, the safety shield engagement is a ridge projecting dorsally from an outer surface of the cannula shield and extending along at least a portion of a longitudinal axis of the cannula shield. The pivoting safety shield may further include at least one locking tab adapted to releasably engage the ridge. The ridge may include a beveled edge and the locking tab may include an engagement surface corresponding to the beveled edge to provide a resistance interference therebetween. At least a portion of the ridge is engageable with at least a portion of the locking tab in a detent arrangement to restrain the pivoting safety shield with the cannula shield. The detent arrangement may be adapted to resist disengagement until a force is imparted to the pivoting safety shield in a manner capable of moving the pivoting safety shield from the restrained position to the retracted position. The detent arrangement may prevent unintentional removal of the cannula shield from the housing, and disengagement of the detent arrangement enables removal of the cannula shield from the housing. Release of the detent arrangement allows the pivoting safety shield to pivot from a restrained position to the retracted position. In a further configuration, the housing includes a flash indicator, and the cannula interior is provided in fluid communication with the flash indicator.

[0017] In yet another embodiment of the present invention, a needle assembly includes a housing having a distal end and a proximal end, and a cannula extending distally from the housing. The cannula includes a patient end. The assembly also includes a cannula shield removably engaged with a portion of the housing, and including a locking tab receiving structure. The assembly also includes a pivoting safety shield engaged with a portion of the housing, transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end of the cannula is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end of the cannula is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield. The safety shield includes at least one locking tab, wherein the locking tab receiving structure is adapted to receive the locking tab when the pivoting safety shield is in a restrained position.

[0018] The locking tab may extend from an internal wall of the pivoting safety shield. Optionally, the pivoting safety shield is pivotable about a hinge. When the cannula shield is removed from the needle assembly, the safety shield is capable of lockingly engaging at least one of the cannula or housing when the safety shield is in the extended position. In another configuration, when the pivoting safety shield is in the restrained position, the locking tab and locking tab receiving structure resist disengagement until a force is imparted to the pivoting safety shield in a manner capable of moving the safety shield from the restrained position to the retracted position.

[0019] In a further embodiment of the present invention, a blood collection assembly includes a first sub-assembly and a second sub-assembly, wherein the first sub-assembly includes a first portion for press-fit engagement with the second sub-assembly, and the second sub-assembly includes a corresponding second portion for press-fit engagement with the first sub-assembly. The first sub-assembly includes a hub having a flash indicator, the hub having a distal end and a proximal end engageable with a specimen collection container. The first sub-assembly also includes a cannula extending between a patient end and a non-patient end, defining a cannula interior, with the patient end of the cannula projecting at least partially from the distal end of the hub. The cannula interior is in fluid communication with the flash indicator. The first sub-assembly also includes a cannula shield removably engaged with the distal end of the hub and shielding at least the patient end of the cannula. The first sub-assembly further includes a pivoting safety shield fixedly engaged with a portion of the hub, transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield. The second sub-assembly includes a specimen collection container holder having an interior through which a specimen collection container may be engaged with the proximal end of the hub.

[0020] Optionally, the cannula shield includes a safety shield engagement, and the safety shield comprises at least one locking tab releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement. The safety shield engagement may be a ridge projecting upwardly from an outer surface of the cannula shield and extending along at least a portion of a longitudinal axis of the cannula shield. At least a portion of the ridge may be engageable with at least a portion of the locking tab in a detent arrangement to restrain the safety shield with the cannula shield. Release of the detent arrangement may allow the safety shield to pivot from a restrained position to the retracted position. Removal of the cannula shield from the housing may allow for transition of the safety shield from the retracted position to the extended position.

[0021] In another configuration, the locking tab is releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement in a restrained position and fixedly engageable with a portion of the housing in the extended position. Engagement of the first portion and the second portion may include deflection of at least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide an interference therebetween. In another configuration, the first portion and the second portion may include a two-stage press-fit engagement. Engagement of the first portion and the second portion may include a first deflection of at a portion of least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide an interference therebetween, and a second deflection of at least a portion of at least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide a second interference therebetween. At least a portion of the first portion and at least a portion of the second portion may also include corresponding mating surfaces for threaded engagement therebetween. The press-fit engagement of the first portion of the first sub-assembly and the second portion of the second sub-assembly may prevent disengagement of the first sub-assembly from the second sub-assembly upon engagement of a specimen collection container with the proximal end of the hub.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0022] 

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a needle assembly having a hinged safety shield and a needle guard shield in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 1 having the needle guard shield removed and in the retracted position.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 5.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 5.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 5 in the extended position.

FIG. 10 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the needle assembly of FIG. 9.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the engagement of the safety shield and the front hub portion in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a close-up sectional perspective view of the engagement between the safety shield and the front hub portion in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a needle assembly having a flash chamber in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a rear perspective view of the needle assembly having a flash chamber of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is an exploded view of the needle assembly having a flash chamber of FIG. 14.

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the needle assembly having a flash chamber of FIG. 14.

FIG. 18 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the needle assembly of FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of a needle assembly having a flash chamber used in connection with a blood collection assembly in yet a further embodiment.

FIG. 20 is an enlarged sectional view of a portion of the needle assembly of FIG. 19.

FIG. 21 is an exploded perspective view of a needle assembly having a hinged safety shield in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is an assembled perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 21 in the retracted position.

FIG. 23 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 24 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 25 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 26 is a front view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 27 is a rear view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 28 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22.

FIG. 29 is an alternative exploded view of a needle assembly having a hinged safety shield in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 30 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 22 in the extended position.

FIG. 31 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 30 in the extended position.

FIG. 32 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 30.

FIG. 33 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 30 in the extended position.

FIG. 34 is a front view of the needle assembly of FIG. 30.

FIG. 35 is a rear view of the needle assembly of FIG. 30.

FIG. 36 is a sectional perspective view of an alternative hinged safety shield shown in the extended position in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 37 is an exploded perspective view of a needle assembly including a cannula shield and a pivoting safety shield in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 38 is an assembled perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 37 including the cannula shield and the safety shield in the restrained position.

FIG. 39 is an alternative perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38 including the safety shield in the restrained position.

FIG. 40 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38.

FIG. 41 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38.

FIG. 42 is a bottom view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38.

FIG. 43 is a front view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38.

FIG. 44 is a rear view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38.

FIG. 45 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 40.

FIG. 46 is a sectional side view of a needle assembly having a cannula shield and a pivoting safety shield in the restrained position in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 47 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 46 taken along line CXLII-CXLII.

FIG. 48 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 38 including the cannula shield and the safety shield in the retracted position.

FIG. 49 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 48.

FIG. 50 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 48.

FIG. 51 is a front view of the needle assembly of FIG. 48.

FIG. 52 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 48.

FIG. 53 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 48 having the cannula shield removed and showing the safety shield in the retracted position.

FIG. 54 is an alternative perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53 having the cannula shield removed and showing the safety shield in the retracted position.

FIG. 55 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53.

FIG. 56 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53.

FIG. 57 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53.

FIG. 58 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53 having a specimen collection container engaged therewith.

FIG. 59 is a perspective view of the needle assembly of FIG. 53 showing the safety shield in the extended position.

FIG. 60 is a side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 59.

FIG. 61 is a top view of the needle assembly of FIG. 59.

FIG. 62 is a bottom view of the needle assembly of FIG. 59.

FIG. 63 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 59.

FIG. 64 is a cross-sectional side view of a needle assembly having a pivoting safety shield in the extended position in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 65 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 64 taken along line CLXIX-CLXIX.

FIG. 66 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 64 taken along line CLXX-CLXX.

FIG. 67 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 64 taken along line CLXXI-CLXXI.

FIG. 68 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 64 taken along line CLXXII-CLXXII.

FIG. 69 is a cross-sectional side view of a needle assembly having a non-patient cannula shield, including the safety shield in the restrained position in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 70 is a cross-sectional side view of the needle assembly of FIG. 69, showing the safety shield in the retracted position.

FIG. 71 is a sectional perspective view of a first sub-assembly of a needle assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 72 is a sectional perspective view of the first sub-assembly of FIG. 71 engaged with a second sub-assembly.

FIG. 73 is a rear view of the first sub-assembly engaged with the second sub-assembly of FIG. 72.

FIG. 74 is a sectional cross-sectional view of FIG. 73 taken along line CLXXVI-CLXXVI.

FIG. 75 is a sectional cross-sectional view of FIG. 73 taken along line CLXXVII-CLXXVII.

FIG. 76 is a sectional perspective view of a first sub-assembly of a needle assembly in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 77 is a sectional perspective view of the first sub-assembly of FIG. 76 engaged with a second sub-assembly.

FIG. 78 is a rear view of the first sub-assembly engaged with the second sub-assembly of FIG. 77.

FIG. 79 is a sectional cross-sectional view of FIG. 78 taken along line CLXXXI-CLXXXI.

FIG. 80 is a rear view of a first sub-assembly engaged with a second sub-assembly in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 81 is a sectional cross-sectional view of FIG. 80 taken along line CLXYYIII-CLXYYIII.

FIG. 82 is a rear view of a first sub-assembly engaged with a second sub-assembly in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 83 is a sectional cross-sectional view of FIG. 82 taken along line CLXXXV-CLXXXV.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0023] In general, the needle assembly of the present invention allows for access of a patient's vasculature by a needle cannula, visual indication of vasculature access, and subsequent safety shielding of the needle cannula to protect medical practitioners.

[0024] In one embodiment of the present invention, a needle assembly 30c1 is provided, as generally shown in FIGS. 1-13. The needle assembly 30c1 generally includes a housing having a flash chamber 60c1 integral therewith, a cannula 32c1 associated with the housing, and a safety shield 64c1 adapted to transition from a retracted position, shown in FIGS. 5-8, to an extended position, shown in FIGS. 9-11, for safety shielding of the cannula 32c1 during and/or after use of the needle assembly 30c1. The needle assembly 30c1 is shown in the retracted position ready for use in a specimen collection procedure, such as a blood collection procedure, in FIG. 5, and after use in the extended position shielding the cannula in FIG. 9.

[0025] With particular reference to FIGS. 1-13, the needle assembly 30c1 includes a cannula 32c1 having a distal patient end 34c1 and a proximal non-patient end 36c1. It will be noted that the term "distal" as used herein, refers generally to the forward end of the needle assembly 30c1 that is adapted to puncture the skin of a patient and access the patient's vasculature, while the term "proximal" refers generally to the rear end of the needle assembly 30c1 that is engageable with a specimen collection container 8003 (shown in FIG. 58). The cannula 32c1 includes a sidewall extending between the patient end 34c1 and the non-patient end 36c1 and defining a cannula interior 35c1. In one embodiment, the cannula 32c1 may include at least two distinct needles, such as a distal patient needle 35c2 and a proximal non-patient needle 35c3, both of which define a common central lumen within the cannula interior 35c1. In a further embodiment, the distal patient needle 35c2 is aligned substantially along a common axis with the proximal non-patient needle 35c3 and separated from the proximal non-patient needle 35c3 by a break. The proximal non-patient end 36c1 of the cannula 32c1 is provided for puncturing a specimen collection container 8003 (shown in FIG. 58). In one embodiment, the proximal non-patient end 36c1 of the cannula 32c1 may be covered by a pierceable elastomeric multiple sample sleeve. The distal patient end 34c1 may have a bevel for allowing easier penetration of a patient's skin.

[0026] The cannula 32c1 of the needle assembly may be at least partially supported by a portion of the housing. In one embodiment, the housing may be a hub 58c1 for supporting a portion of the cannula 32c1. For example, proximal non-patient needle 35c3 and distal patient needle 35c2 may be affixed or otherwise adhered within a central opening of the hub 58c1, with a break present between proximal non-patient needle 35c3 and the distal patient needle 35c2. In another configuration, the hub 58c1 may be formed of separate elements. For example, a proximal or rear hub portion 3028 may be connected with or affixed to a forward hub portion 3026, thereby forming the hub 58c1 as a unitary structure, with the cannula 32c1 extending therethrough.

[0027] As shown in FIGS. 1-11, the housing may have a distal end 35c5 and a proximal end 35c4 engageable with a specimen collection container 8003 (shown in FIG. 58). As used herein, the phrase "engageable with a specimen collection container" means that a specimen collection container may be attached to or affixed with a portion of the proximal end 35c4 of the housing, or that a specimen collection container may be passed within or disposed over or about a portion of the proximal end 35c4 of the housing and secured to another portion of the housing. In one embodiment, the proximal end 35c4 of the needle assembly 30c1 may define a specimen collection container receiving port, adapted to receive a specimen collection container therewith.

[0028] In another embodiment, the needle assembly 30c1 is a specimen collection assembly, such as a blood collection assembly, in which the housing of the needle assembly 30c1 includes a specimen collection container holder 42c1 adjacent the proximal end 35c4 of the needle assembly 30c1. At least a portion of the specimen collection container holder 42c1 may have a radially aligned flange 90 to facilitate manipulation of the needle assembly 30c1. The flange 90 may be non-circular to prevent the needle assembly 30c1 from rolling, or for other purposes such as communicating to the user the intended orientation of the needle assembly 30c1.

[0029] The specimen collection container holder 42c1 is adapted to accommodate at least a portion of the cannula 32c1 in a mating relationship. For example, the specimen collection container holder 42c1 may include an engagement portion to which a portion of the cannula 32c1, such as the non-patient end 36c1 is mounted through a portion of the hub 58c1. The hub 58c1 may be also adhesively affixed to the specimen collection container holder 42c1. In another embodiment, the hub 58c1 may be press-fit, snapped, or threaded into the specimen collection container holder 42c1. Alternatively, hub 58c1 may be integrally formed with the distal end 35c5 of the specimen collection container holder 42c1, providing a mechanism for direct attachment of the cannula 32c1 to the specimen collection container holder 42c1. In certain embodiments, the cannula 32c1 is joined with a portion of the specimen collection container holder 42c1 by the manufacturer so that the device is ready for fast and convenient use by the medical practitioner.

[0030] In certain configurations, the patient end 34c1 of the cannula 32c1 projects at least partially from the distal end of the housing, and the non-patient end 36c1 extends in a substantially proximal direction from the patient end 34c1. In another embodiment, the distal patient needle 35c2 projects at least partially from the distal end of the housing, and the proximal non-patient needle 35c3 extends in a substantially proximal direction from the patient needle.

[0031] At least a portion of the housing, including the hub 58c1, the specimen collection container holder 42c1, includes a flash chamber 60c1. As used herein, the term "flash chamber" includes a cavity into which a specimen, such as blood, from a patient may pass, and through which the presence of the specimen within the cavity may be visibly detected by a medical practitioner. The flash chamber 60c1 may be integrally formed with a portion of the housing or, alternatively, may be separately formed and subsequently engaged with a portion of the housing. In one embodiment, the cannula interior 35c1 is in fluid communication with the flash chamber 60c1. In a further embodiment, a sidewall of the cannula 32c1 may define an opening extending between the cannula interior 35c1 and the flash chamber 60c1 to permit the flow of a specimen, such as blood, from the cannula 32c1 to the flash chamber 60c1. In another embodiment, the cannula 32c1 includes a distal patient needle 35c2 in fluid communication with the flash chamber 60c1, and a proximal non-patient needle 35c3 in fluid communication with the flash chamber 60c1. Accordingly, when the distal patient needle 35c2 is provided access with a patient's vasculature, blood may flow from the patient through the distal patient needle 35c2 and into the flash chamber 60c1. When the proximal non-patient needle 35c3 is engaged with an evacuated specimen collection container 8003, shown in FIG.58, blood may flow from the flash chamber 60c1 and through the proximal non-patient needle.

[0032] In one embodiment, the hub 58c1 may include an interior between a portion of the rear hub portion 3028 and a portion of the forward hub portion 3026. A flash chamber 60c1 may be formed within at least a portion of the interior of the hub 58c1. In one configuration, the hub 58c1, or at least a portion of the hub 58c1, such as the forward hub portion 3026, may be constructed from a transparent or translucent material, such as a polymeric material or resin. Alternatively, a flash chamber 60c1 may be integrally formed within another portion of the housing, such as integrally formed with the specimen collection container holder 42c1.

[0033] In use, blood flow from a patient through the cannula 32c1 will enter the flash chamber 60c1 through an opening in the cannula 32c1, thereby partially filling the flash chamber 60c1 with blood. The flash chamber 60c1 provides a visual mechanism for recognition of venous access to a medical practitioner. Example flashback indicators are described, for example, in United States Patent Publication No. 2005/0004524.

[0034] As shown in FIGS. 14-20, an alternative flash chamber, may include a vent mechanism in communication with an external environment surrounding the needle assembly, it is also contemplated herein that a needle assembly may include a flash chamber having a vent plug which seals upon flow of blood into the flashback chamber, thereby inhibiting any pressurized air that may build up within the chamber, from moving in a reverse direction toward the inlet of the cannula. As shown in FIGS. 14-20, it is also contemplated herein that a similar vent plug may be positioned within the housing at a location such that the vent plug divides the housing into two chambers having sizes and dimensions to establish predetermined volumes thereto. Moreover, the porous vent remains porous to blood and does not seal upon contact with blood. Desirably, the blood does not contact the vent plug at the initial flash indication, but such sealing occurs at a later point during use of the assembly, as will be described in more detail herein.

[0035] For example, as shown in FIGS. 14-17, a porous vent is positioned within the housing at a location such that the vent divides the housing into two chambers having sizes and dimensions to establish predetermined volumes thereto, so that the blood does not contact the porous vent for at the initial flash indication, but such contact occurs at a later point during use of the assembly, as will be described in more detail herein.

[0036] As shown in FIGS. 14-17, needle assembly 410 includes a housing 412 having a fluid inlet end or first end 414 and a fluid outlet end or second end 416. Needle assembly 410 includes exterior wall 418 defining the housing interior. Exterior wall 418 extends generally longitudinally at the first end 414 forming an elongate longitudinal first portion 419 having a first diameter. At second end 416, exterior wall 418 forms a second portion 421 that has a second diameter that is generally larger than the first diameter of the first portion 419. Accordingly, housing 412 may form a structure having a generally T-shaped cross-section. The exterior wall 418 at second end 416 may be a separate element 428 that is attachable to main body portion 430 forming housing 412, thereby assisting in manufacture and assembly of needle assembly 410. First portion 419 and second portion 421 may be arranged relative to each other in a variety of arrangements, so long as they are capable of functioning for transport of air therebetween as discussed herein.

[0037] Needle assembly 410 further includes a fluid inlet cannula 436 extending from first end 414 of housing 412. Fluid inlet cannula 436 includes an exterior end 439 that defines a sharpened bevel at patient puncture tip 438, and extends within first end 414 of housing 412, and may be fixedly mounted therein. Fluid inlet cannula 436 is characterized further by a substantially cylindrical lumen extending between the ends and communicating with the interior of housing 412.

[0038] Needle assembly 410 also includes a non-patient puncture tip extending from second end 414 of housing 412. As seen in FIG. 16, this may be accomplished by providing needle assembly 410 with a second cannula in the form of fluid outlet cannula 452. In particular, the end of fluid outlet cannula 452 may define a sharpened bevel forming non-patient puncture tip 462. Fluid outlet cannula 452 extends within second end 416 of housing 412, and may be fixedly mounted therein. Fluid outlet cannula 452 is characterized further by a substantially cylindrical lumen communicating with the interior of housing 412. Fluid outlet cannula 452 is mounted within housing 412 so that an interior end 464 passes substantially coaxially therein such that fluid outlet cannula 452 substantially aligns axially with the interior end of inlet cannula 436. Desirably, this is achieved by mounting fluid outlet cannula 452 at a location adjacent second end 416 of housing 412, such that the interior end 464 of fluid outlet cannula 452 extends within housing 412 to a location adjacent the interior end 439 of inlet cannula 436. Additionally, the interior end 464 of fluid outlet cannula 452 is spaced only a small distance from the interior end 439 of inlet cannula 436, thereby forming an axial gap therebetween for flow of blood into flash chamber 426 about fluid outlet cannula 452. The distance between the interior end 464 of fluid outlet cannula 452 and the interior end 439 of inlet cannula 436 forming the axial gap is sufficient to provide for flow of blood into the flash chamber 426 based upon the patient's blood pressure after venipuncture. In certain embodiments, an axial gap that is less than 0.5mm may result in a flashback that is inconsistent.

[0039] As seen in FIG. 18, fluid inlet cannula 436 and fluid outlet cannula 452 are positioned and dimensioned within housing 412 so as to achieve both desirable flow of blood through assembly 410 and to achieve effective flashback indication. In particular, wall 418 of housing 412 is dimensioned to provide a radial gap around fluid outlet cannula 452 of about 0.2mm at an area surrounding the internal end 464 thereof. This gap achieves a substantially laminar blood flow within flashback chamber 426 and prevents blood hemolysis. Additionally, the small radial gap between the inner surface of wall 418 and fluid outlet cannula 452 at the area surrounding the internal end 464 enables a drop of blood to be spread thinly across the radial gap in flashback chamber 426 to provide a magnified flashback indication with a very small volume of blood. Thus, an easily visualized flashback indication is achieved quickly at the first appearance of blood within flashback chamber 426. It is contemplated herein that internal end 464 of outlet cannula 452 may be partially supported within housing 412, so long as blood flow into flashback chamber 426 is achieved about the internal end 464.

[0040] In an alternate arrangement, a single cannula is provided. Such an arrangement is depicted in the embodiment of FIGS. 19-20 (shown in connection with a blood collection assembly as will be described in more detail herein). In such an arrangement, the fluid inlet cannula and the fluid outlet cannula represent one single cannula 470, having a patient puncture tip 438 a non-patient puncture tip 462, and a lumen 442 extending therethrough, and with the body of the cannula 470 being fixedly attached to a portion of the housing 412 and passing entirely through housing 412. A portion of cannula 470 extending through housing 412 includes one or more openings such as slot or aperture 444 to provide communication between lumen 442 and flashback chamber 436 within housing 412. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 19-20, two separate apertures 444 are shown on opposing sides of cannula 470, although it is contemplated that any number of openings or apertures 444 can be included to provide for blood flow into the flash chamber 436.

[0041] Returning to the embodiment of FIGS. 14-17, needle assembly 410 further includes a sealable sleeve 461 mounted to fluid outlet end 416 of housing 412. This may be accomplished by providing a mounting protrusion 429 at second end 416 of housing 412, such as on element 428, with sealable sleeve 461 representing an elastomeric element that can be frictionally fit or otherwise affixed over protrusion 429. Sealable sleeve 461 covers non-patient puncture tip 462 at the exterior end of fluid outlet cannula 452 when sealable sleeve 461 is in an unbiased condition. However, sealable sleeve 461 can be collapsed in response to pressure exerted by the stopper of an evacuated tube for urging exterior end 460 of fluid outlet cannula 452 through both sealable sleeve 461 and the stopper of an evacuated tube, as known in the art.

[0042] The embodiment of FIGS. 14-17 further includes a porous vent 402 positioned within the interior of housing 412. Porous vent 402 is positioned within housing 412 to divide housing 412 into two distinct chambers, namely a first chamber represented by flashback chamber 426 and a second chamber represented by secondary chamber 427. Porous vent 402 may be constructed of a suitable material as described above with respect to vent plug 900, albeit without the hydrophilic material that swells on contact. In this manner, porous vent 402 is adapted to vent air therethrough, and represents a porous structure including a plurality of pores that allow for passage of blood therethrough. As discussed in more detail herein, during use of needle assembly 410, the internal pores within porous vent 402 at least partially fill with blood due to the negative pressure established within secondary chamber 427. Such filled pores in combination with the negative pressure within secondary chamber 427 prevent air flow between the secondary chamber 427 and the flashback chamber 426, and provide for fluid resistance of the blood through porous vent 402, as will be described in further detail.

[0043] Desirably, porous vent 402 is positioned within the interior of housing 412 between first portion 419 and second portion 421. In this manner, first portion 419 of housing 412 essentially defines the flashback chamber 426, and second portion 421 of housing 412 essentially defines the secondary chamber 427. Alternatively, porous vent 402 may be positioned within the interior of housing 412 at a location spanning the transition between the first diameter of first portion 419 and the second diameter of second portion 421, as shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 19-20. In any event, porous vent 402 is generally a cylindrically shaped member with a central opening therein axially encircling a portion of the cannula, particularly fluid outlet cannula 452.

[0044] The interior volume of housing 412 is defined by the sum of the volumes of flashback chamber 426 and secondary chamber 427 as well as the volume represented by the pores of porous vent 402. Such interior volume is configured so as to provide for certain attributes to the needle assembly 410, in particular with respect to the ability of the secondary chamber 427 to be at least partially evacuated of a portion of air therein to establish a negative pressure therein upon application of an evacuated tube to needle assembly 410 during use thereof. Such negative pressure within secondary chamber 427 draws blood through the pores of porous vent 402 based on when blood contacts porous vent 402 and partially fills the pores thereof. In a particular embodiment of the invention, the overall interior volume of housing 412 may be from about 300 mm3 to about 400 mm3. Such a volume is particularly useful for the intended use of needle assembly 410 for conventional venipuncture for drawing a blood sample from a patient using a needle cannula having a conventional gauge for venipuncture as is known in the art. With such an internal volume, porous vent 402 is desirably positioned within housing interior so as to define flashback chamber 426 as having a volume that represents from about 5 percent to about 20 percent of the total overall volume of housing 412, desirably from about 7 percent to about 12 percent of the total overall volume of housing 412, including the volume of secondary chamber 427 and the volume of the pores within porous vent 402. Such a ratio of the flashback chamber 426 to the total overall volume of the housing 412 assures that flashback chamber 426 has sufficient volume to properly visualize the initial flash, and desirably while preventing blood from fully contacting the porous vent 402 at initial venipuncture, based on the initial build-up of pressure within secondary chamber 427 caused by venous pressure forcing the blood into flashback chamber 426. Such volume ratios are effective for the intended use as described in further detail herein, wherein blood flowing into flashback chamber 426 upon initial venipuncture does not contact porous vent 402, and wherein at least a portion of the air is drawn out from secondary chamber 427 based upon application of an evacuated blood collection tube to the needle assembly 410. In this manner, secondary chamber 427 can effectively draw blood from within flashback chamber 426 and from within fluid inlet cannula 436 toward secondary chamber 427, such as into and through porous vent 402, when patient puncture tip 438 is removed from the patient and is exposed to the external environment. In one particular embodiment, the total interior volume of the housing 412 is about 380 mm3, with the flashback chamber 426 having a volume of about 30 mm3, the secondary chamber 427 having a volume of about 300 mm3, and the pores of the porous vent 402 representing a volume of about 50 mm3.

[0045] Needle assembly 410 may be assembled as follows. Fluid inlet cannula 436 is positioned through first end 414 of housing 412 such that the open interior end 439 is positioned within an interior portion of housing 412 at first portion 419 and patient puncture tip 438 extends externally of first end 414. Fluid outlet cannula 452 is positioned within housing 412 through the opposite end, such that open internal end 464 is positioned within an interior portion of housing 412 at first portion 419 adjacent interior end 439 of fluid inlet cannula 436, with a slight gap therebetween, and with non-patient puncture tip extending externally of second end 416. Fluid inlet cannula 436 and fluid outlet cannula 452 may be affixed therein in any known manner, desirably through a medical grade adhesive.

[0046] In alternate embodiments including only a single cannula 470, such cannula 470 is affixed within housing 412 such that opening 472 is positioned within the interior of housing 412 at first portion 419, with patient puncture tip 438 extending externally of first end 414 and non-patient puncture tip 462 extending externally of second end 416.

[0047] Porous vent 402 is then inserted within housing 412 and positioned over fluid outlet cannula 452 (or over the single cannula 470), and element 428 is thereafter affixed to the second end 416, enclosing the interior of housing 412. Sealable sleeve 461 is then affixed over protrusion 429. As such, the interior of housing 412 is closed from the external environment, with the sole path for fluid communication between the interior of housing 412 and the external environment being provided through the patient puncture tip 438.

[0048] Needle assembly 410 assembled as such can be used in connection with a blood collection tube holder 403, as depicted in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 19-20.

[0049] In use, needle assembly 410 may be provided with collection tube holder 403 attached thereto. Patient puncture tip 438 is inserted through the skin of a patient and into the patient's vasculature, desirably into a vein. Upon venipuncture, a closed environment is achieved within housing 412, since housing 412 is an entirely closed structure, and since sealable sleeve 461 closes off the only outlet of housing 412 (i. e., fluid outlet cannula 452). The patient's blood pressure causes blood to flow through patient puncture tip 438, into fluid inlet cannula 436, and out interior end 439 (or through opening 472 in the embodiment of FIGS. 19-20), into flashback chamber 426 surrounding interior end 464 of fluid outlet cannula 452. The transparent or translucent nature of housing 412 permits visualization of the blood within flashback chamber 426, providing an indication that venipuncture is achieved.

[0050] Since the interior of housing 412 is a closed environment, the flow of blood into flashback chamber 426 causes air to be trapped within the housing interior, including within flashback chamber 426, porous vent 402 and secondary chamber 427, as well as within fluid outlet cannula 452, causing such trapped air to be slightly pressurized therein. Flashback chamber 426 and secondary chamber 427 are configured through their size and dimensions such that the volumes thereof permit blood to flow into flashback chamber 426 at this initial venipucture, but the build up of air pressure within the pores of porous vent 402 and within secondary chamber 427 prevents blood from fully contacting porous vent 402, and desirably prevents blood from even partially contacting porous vent 402 at the initial venipuncture.

[0051] After such initial venipuncture and flash visualization, a sample collection container having a negative pressure therein, such as an evacuated blood collection tube (not shown) as is commonly known in the art, is inserted within the tube holder 403. The stopper (not shown) of such evacuated container contacts and displaces sealable sleeve 461, causing non-patient puncture tip 462 to puncture through sealable sleeve 461 and through the stopper of the evacuated container. At this point, fluid communication is established between the non-patient puncture tip 462 and the interior of the evacuated collection container. The negative pressure within the evacuated collection container draws the blood that has collected within flashback chamber 426 into fluid outlet cannula 452 and into the evacuated collection container. Along with the blood within flashback chamber 426, the negative pressure within the evacuated collection container will also draw at least a portion of the air out of the flashback chamber 426 and out of the secondary chamber 427 through the pores of the porous vent 402, toward and into the evacuated collection container. In addition, the close proximity and alignment of fluid outlet cannula 452 and fluid inlet cannula 426 causes blood to be drawn from fluid inlet cannula 436 and from the patient, simultaneously with such air being drawn from the flashback chamber 426 and secondary chamber 427.

[0052] Such drawing of air reduces the pressure within the flashback chamber 426 and the secondary chamber 427, establishing a negative pressure therein with respect to the patient's blood stream and with respect to the external environment. This negative pressure that has been established within the interior of housing 412, and specifically within flashback chamber 426 and secondary chamber 427, draws additional blood from within fluid inlet cannula 436 and from the patient into flashback chamber 426, with the blood contacting porous vent 402. With such blood filling flashback chamber 426, the blood fully contacts the surface of porous vent 402 that extends within flashback chamber 426, and begins to fill the pores of porous vent 402. Such filling of the pores of porous vent 402 that are directly at the interface of porous vent 402 and flashback chamber 426 closes off the porous vent 402 from airflow therethrough but does not fully act as a seal, in that the blood does not cause the material of the porous vent 402 to swell or close off to air flow, but instead merely physically fills the voids within the porous vent 402. Moreover, since a portion of the air within secondary chamber 427 has been drawn out form secondary chamber 427, the secondary chamber 427 represents a closed chamber with a negative pressure therein relative to the external environment. Secondary chamber 427 will therefore continue to have a drawing effect on the blood within the pores of porous vent 402 and within flashback chamber 426 through the pores of porous vent 402 toward secondary chamber 427, without releasing any air from the secondary chamber 427 in the opposite direction due to the pores of porous vent 402 at the interface of the flashback chamber 426 being filled with blood, thereby effectively preventing air flow through porous vent 402 due to the filled pores. The draw created by negative pressure within secondary chamber 427 has a fluid resistance based on the blood filling the pores of porous vent 402 and based on the tortuous path created by the pores of the porous vent 402, and therefore is a gradual draw with reduced fluid movement.

[0053] At this point, the evacuated collection container and the secondary chamber 427 are both at a negative pressure with respect to the external environment (and with respect to the patient's bloodstream), and therefore both effect a draw from the fluid inlet cannula 436. This effect may essentially establish an equilibrium within the flashback chamber 426, such that the blood contained within the flashback chamber 426 is not drawn toward or into either the secondary chamber 427 through the pores of porous vent 402 or into the evacuated collection container (through the fluid inlet cannula 436), but instead essentially remains within flashback chamber 426 in a steady state. The negative pressure of the evacuated collection container draws blood directly from the patient through fluid inlet cannula 436, due to the close proximity and alignment of fluid outlet cannula 452 and fluid inlet cannula 436, as well as due to the equilibrium established within flashback chamber 426 (based on the opposite draw forces between the evacuated collection container and the evacuated secondary chamber 427). The continual draw of blood into the evacuated collection container gradually causes the pressure within the collection container to increase.

[0054] Once the evacuated collection container is filled with the desired amount of blood, the container is removed from the non-patient puncture tip 462, thereby releasing the fluid communication between the non-patient puncture tip 462 and the evacuated collection container, with sealable sleeve 461 then covering and closing off non-patient puncture tip 462. Absent such draw from the negative pressure of the evacuated collection tube, the negative pressure within the secondary chamber 427 effects a slight draw on the blood within flashback chamber 426 through the pores of porous vent 402. Such draw, however, is very slow and gradual, due to the tortuous path of blood flow through the pores of porous vent 402.

[0055] Additional evacuated collection containers can thereafter be inserted into tube holder 403 and used for sample collection through non-patient puncture tip 462 as described above, by placing a second evacuated collection container within the holder 403 and establishing fluid communication between the non-patient puncture tip 462 and the interior of the evacuated collection container by puncturing the stopper, as discussed. In such further sampling, the evacuated collection container and the secondary chamber 427 are both at a negative pressure, and therefore both effect a draw from the fluid inlet cannula 436. As above, this effect essentially establishes an equilibrium within the flashback chamber 426, thereby preventing the blood contained within the flashback chamber 426 from being drawn toward or into the secondary chamber 427 (through the porous vent 402). The negative pressure of the evacuated collection container draws blood directly from the patient through fluid inlet cannula 436 as discussed above, due to the close proximity and alignment of fluid outlet cannula 452 and fluid inlet cannula 426. Once any such additional evacuated collection containers are filled with the desired amount of blood, the container is removed from the non-patient puncture tip 462, thereby releasing the fluid communication between the non-patient puncture tip 462 and the evacuated collection container, with sealable sleeve 461 then covering and closing off non-patient puncture tip 462.

[0056] Once all of the desired blood samples have been drawn in this manner, patient puncture tip 438 is removed from the vasculature of the patient, thereby exposing the opening of patient puncture tip 438 to the external environment. Since the sole communication path between the housing interior and the external environment is through patient puncture tip 438, the negative pressure established within secondary chamber 427 relative to the external environment will affect a gradual draw on the blood contained within flash chamber 426 and within fluid inlet cannula 436 toward and through porous vent 402. Such drawing effect will move any blood contained within fluid inlet cannula 436 away from patient puncture tip 438, thereby preventing any blood from leaking from patient puncture tip 438 out of fluid inlet cannula 436. Such negative pressure within secondary chamber 427 may continue to have a gradual drawing effect through the porous vent 402 for a prolonged period of time after removal of patient puncture tip 438 from the patient, and may draw all of the remaining blood contained within fluid inlet cannula 436 and flashback chamber 426 through porous vent 402 and/or into secondary chamber 427. Needle assembly 410 can then be properly disposed of in a known manner. It is anticipated herein, that the flash chamber 426 described with reference to FIGS. 14-20 may be employed within any of the embodiments described elsewhere in the present application.

[0057] Referring again to the embodiment, shown in FIGS. 1-13, a needle assembly 30c1 having a hinged safety shield 64c1 is shown. Needle assembly 30c1 generally includes needle structure 32c1 associated with needle holder 42c1, and a safety shield 64c1 adapted for safety shielding of the needle structure 32c1 after use of the device. Needle assembly 30c1 further includes a hub 58c1 for supporting the needle structure 32c1 and a flashback indicator 60c1 defined therein, as previously described.

[0058] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-13, the safety shield 64c1 may include a first depending arm 3000 and a second depending arm 3002 substantially parallel to the first depending arm 3000. The first depending arm 3000 and the second depending arm 3002 are connected together by a connection surface 3004 that is substantially perpendicular to the first depending arm 3000 and the second depending arm 3002. The safety shield 64c1 has a proximal end 3006 adjacent the needle holder 42c1 and a distal end 3008 opposed from the proximal end 3006. At least a portion of the proximal end 3006 of the safety shield 64c1 is pivotally connected to the needle holder 42c1. Preferably, the proximal end 3006 of the safety shield 64c1 is connected to the needle holder 42c1 by two opposing pivots 3010. In a further embodiment, the safety shield 64c1 is pivotally connected to the front cone 3012 of the needle holder 42c1 by pivots 3010 extending through opposing attachment arms 3014 connected to the front cone 3012 and oriented along the longitudinal axis of the needle holder 42c1.

[0059] The pivot(s) 3010 allow the safety shield 64c1 to transitionally pivot in a rotational manner with respect to the needle holder 42c1 from a retracted position, as shown in FIGS. 5-8 to an extended position, as shown in FIGS. 9-11. In one embodiment, the safety shield 64c1 may also include a shield engaging area 3016 within the connection surface 3004 adjacent the proximal end 3006 having a contour substantially corresponding to the contour of the exterior surface 3018 of the needle holder 42c1 and/or the exterior surface 3018 of the front cone 3012. In this configuration, the shield engaging area 3016 may rest against a portion of the needle holder 42c1 in the retracted position.

[0060] As shown in FIG. 4, the hub 58c1 may include a front hub portion 3026 and a rear hub portion 3028 joined to the first hub portion 3026. The front hub portion 3026 may have a substantially conical shape disposed about the flashback indicator 60c1. In one embodiment, at least a portion of the front hub portion 3026 extends distally beyond the front cone 3012 of the needle holder 42c1. In another embodiment, at least a portion of the front hub portion 3026 has a contour that corresponds to a contour of the front cone 3012 of the needle holder 42c1. The rear hub portion 3028 of the hub 58c1 may include a disk structure dimensioned to contact an interior perimeter of the needle holder 42c1 to prevent advancement of an evacuated blood collection tube (not shown) therebeyond. At least a portion of the needle structure 32c1 may extend through the front hub portion 3026 and the rear hub portion 3028 of the hub 58c1. Although the hub 58c1 may be provided within the collection assembly as an integral element, in an alternative configuration, the hub 58c1, including the front hub portion 3026 and the rear hub portion 3028, as well as the needle structure 32c1 may be separately formed and subsequently assembled within the collection assembly 30c1.

[0061] In one embodiment, the needle assembly 30c1 may be provided with a removable IV needle shield 3020 covering at least a portion of the needle structure 32c1, such as covering at least a portion of the distal needle portion 34c1. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4, the needle shield 3020 can be sized to extend over at least a portion of the front hub portion 3026 of the hub 58c1, the front cone 3012 of the needle holder 42c1, the flashback indicator 60c1, and/or the hub 58c1. The needle shield 3020 can be removed from the needle assembly 30c1 prior to use by typical manual applied pressure.

[0062] Referring again to FIG. 4, in another embodiment the needle shield 3020 can be provided with a raised protrusion 3022 disposed on the exterior surface 3024 of the needle shield 3020. In one embodiment, the raised protrusion 3022 is circumferentially disposed about the needle shield 3020. In another embodiment, the raised protrusion 3022 corresponds to a notch 3030 within the safety shield 64c1 such that the needle shield 3020 cannot be accidentally released from the needle assembly 30c1 until the safety shield 64c1 is positioned in the retracted position, as shown in FIGS. 5-8.

[0063] The safety shield 64c1 can be sized to have any dimensions suitable to allow the safety shield 64c1 to be pivoted away from the needle structure 32c1 in the retracted position, as shown in FIGS. 5-8, to allow a medical practitioner to engage the needle structure 32c1 with a patient, and to pivot toward and shield the needle structure 32c1, specifically the tip of the distal needle portion 34c1 in the extended position, as shown in FIGS. 9-11. In one embodiment, the safety shield 64c1 may be pivoted away from the axis of the needle structure 32c1 to a sufficient angle to allow a medical practitioner to view the flashback indicator 60c1 and/or hub 58c1 in the retracted position. In another embodiment, the safety shield 64c1 is made of a transparent and/or translucent material to allow a medical practitioner to view the flashback indicator 60c1 and/or hub 58c1 therethrough.

[0064] Once the distal needle portion 34c1 has been removed from the patient, the needle assembly 30c1 may be transitioned from the retracted position to the extended position. In one embodiment, the first depending arm 3000 and the second depending arm 3002 of the safety shield 64c1 may be constructed to form a press-fit lock with at least a portion of the front hub portion 3026, the front cone 3012 and/or the needle holder 42c1. This prevents the safety shield 64c1 from re-transitioning to the retracted position once the initial transition from the retracted position to the extended position has occurred. As shown in FIGS. 12-13, the first depending arm 3000 and the second depending arm 3002 may each include an inwardly angled restraint 3032 disposed adjacent the pivot 3010 at the proximal end 3006 of the safety shield 64c1. The angled restraint 3032 includes a sloped surface 3036 and a restraining surface 3038. The front hub portion 3026 may also include a plurality of ledges 3034 for engaging the angled restraints 3032. In one embodiment, when the safety shield 64c1 of the needle assembly 30c1 is transitioned from the retracted position to the extended position, the angled restraint 3032 of the safety shield 64c1 engages the ledge(s) 3034 of the front hub portion 3026. Specifically, the restraining surface 3038 engages the ledge(s) 3034 and prevents subsequent movement of the safety shield 64c1. In one embodiment, the ledge(s) 3034 are positioned on the distal end 3050 of the hub 58c1. In another embodiment, the angled restraint(s) 3032 are positioned on the safety shield 64c1 at a location distal from the pivot(s) 3010 for correspondingly engaging the ledge(s) 3034 on the distal end 3050 of the hub 58c1. Alternatively, the front cone 3012 may also include a plurality of ledges 3034a for engaging the angled restraint 3032 of the safety shield 64c1. In yet another embodiment, the angled restraint(s) 3032 are positioned on the superior side 3052 of the safety shield 64c1 and may extend in a direction proximal from the pivot(s) 3010. Accordingly, the engagement of the safety shield 64c1 and the hub 58c1 may occur at the superior side 3052 (bottom side), of the needle assembly 30c1. Transition of the angled restraint 3032 over the ledge(s) 3034 can be effectuated with typical manual pressure. As shown in FIG. 13, the safety shield 64c1 may optionally include a biasing element 3040 for further securing the front hub portion 3026 within the safety shield 64c1. Thus, the locking structure of the safety shield 64c1 engages at least a portion of the flash chamber, defined within the hub 58c1. In one embodiment, the locking structure of the safety shield 64c1 engages at least a portion of the housing, such as the hub 58c1, at a location distal to the flash chamber.

[0065] FIGS. 21-35 depict another alternative hinged assembly embodiment of the present invention. A needle assembly 5000, as shown in FIGS. 21-27, generally includes a needle structure 32c2, associated with a hub 58c2, and a safety shield 64c2 connected to the hub 58c2 and adapted for safety shielding of the needle structure 32c2 after use of the device. In one embodiment, the needle assembly 5000 may incorporate features of other known needle assemblies having hinged safety shields, such as those disclosed in United States Patent Publication No. 2005/0187493.

[0066] The needle structure 32bc2 may include a distal needle portion 5002 and a proximal needle portion 5004. Distal needle portion 5002 and proximal needle portion 5004 may be separate needles, both of which represent needle cannulae defining central lumen 5006 extending therethrough. The proximal needle portion 5004 represents a non-patient end of the needle structure 32bc2, which is provided for puncturing of an evacuated blood collection tube (not shown). The proximal needle portion 5004 may be covered by an elastomeric multiple sample sleeve 5008 that can be pierced by a pointed end of proximal needle portion 5004 of the needle structure 32c2. Distal needle portion 5002 represents a patient end of the needle structure 32c2, and may be beveled to define a puncture tip for puncturing the skin of a patient and accessing the vasculature of the patient.

[0067] The hub 58c2 may include a front hub portion 5010 and a rear hub portion 5012 and is capable of supporting the needle structure 32c2 therethrough. In one embodiment, the distal needle portion 5002 may be integral with the front hub portion 5010 and the proximal needle portion 5004 may be integral with the rear hub portion 5012. The front hub portion 5010 and the rear hub portion 5012 are structured to matingly engage. The front hub portion 5010 may include a protrusion 5014, such as a raised annular ring, for engaging a corresponding recess 5016 integral to the rear hub portion 5012. In another embodiment, the front hub portion 5010 and the rear hub portion 5012 may be joined together via an adhesive or weld. Once assembled, the hub 58c2 defines a flashback indicator 60c2 therein, as previously described.

[0068] The hub 58c2 may further include a collar 5018 for surrounding at least a portion of the safety shield 64c2, such as a pivot 5020 of the safety shield 64c2, as previously described herein. In one embodiment, the front hub portion 5010 includes a first collar portion 5022 and the rear hub portion 5012 includes a second collar portion 5024. The first collar portion 5022 may include a generally c-shaped region 5028 for accommodating an attachment bearing 5026 of the safety shield 64c2, shown in FIGS. 26 and 28, therein. The attachment bearing 5026 may be integral with the safety shield 64c2. The attachment bearing 5026 may also be integral with a portion of the hub 58c2, such as the first collar portion 5022 and/or the second collar portion 5024. Alternatively, the attachment bearing 5026 may be separately provided and subsequently assembled with the safety shield 64c2 and/or the hub 58c2. The attachment bearing 5026 can extend between a first depending arm 5044 and a second depending arm 5046 of the safety shield 64c2, as shown in FIG. 29. The second collar portion 5024 may include a cap region 5030 having an interior surface 5032 substantially corresponding to the attachment bearing 5026 of the safety shield 64c2. The first collar portion 5022 may include a protrusion 5034 for engaging a corresponding recess 5036 integral to the second collar portion 5024. Accordingly, in one embodiment, the engagement of the front hub portion 5010 with the rear hub portion 5012 also engages the first collar portion 5022 with the second collar portion 5024. In another embodiment, the collar 5018 is positioned substantially on a top surface of the hub 58c2 to allow the safety shield 64c2 to likewise be connected to the top surface of the hub 58c2.

[0069] Referring again to FIGS. 21-27, a proximal IV needle shield 5038 and a distal IV needle shield 5040 can be respectively provided over the proximal needle portion 5004 and the distal needle portion 5002 prior to use, as described herein.

[0070] During use, the proximal IV needle shield 5038 can be removed from the proximal needle portion 5004 and the needle holder 42c2, shown in FIGS. 29-35, can be inserted over the proximal needle portion 5004 and engaged with at least a portion of the hub 58c2. In one embodiment, the needle holder 42c2 is engaged with a portion of the rear hub portion 5012.

[0071] In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 28, the attachment bearing 5026 of the safety shield 64c2 may include a notch 5042 for retaining the safety shield 64c2 within a specified location. For example, the notch 5042 may frictionally retain the safety shield 64c2 within the collar 5018 at a specified angle in the retracted position. This allows a medical practitioner to position the safety shield 64c2 at a desired angle during a medical procedure without attending to accidental closure or slippage of the safety shield 64c2.

[0072] As shown in FIGS. 29-35, the needle assembly 30c2 can be transitioned from the retracted position, shown in FIG. 28, in which the distal needle portion 5002 is unshielded for the purpose of accessing a patient, to the extended position, in which the distal needle portion 5002 is safety shielded from exposure, as described herein. With reference to FIGS. 21-35, in another embodiment, the safety shield 64c2 may include a thumb press-region 64c2a for enabling a medical practitioner to pivot the safety shield 64c2 to engage a portion of the proximal IV shield 5038 prior to puncturing the skin of a patient. In one embodiment, the thumb press-region 64c2a extends at least partially beyond the safety shield 64c2 to enable the medical practitioner to easily contact the thumb-press region 64c2a with a single finger or thumb.

[0073] In an alternative embodiment, as shown in FIG. 36, a collection assembly 130w, may include a safety shield 64w may include a first end 138w having a first depending arm 132w and a second depending arm 134w substantially parallel to the first depending arm 132w. The first depending arm 132w and the second depending arm 134w may be connected together. The first depending arm 132w and the second depending arm 134w may have substantially the same area. The safety shield 64w has an end 140w that is connected to the needle holder 42w by at least one pivot 142w. Preferably, the end 140w of the safety shield 64w is connected to the needle holder 42w by two pivots 142w. Example pivoting mechanisms are described in United States Patent Publication No. 2005/187,493.

[0074] In one embodiment, the pivot 142w may include a protrusion integrally formed with the second end 140w of the safety shield 64w and a corresponding recess defined in the distal end of the needle holder 42w. In another embodiment, the pivot 142w may include a recess defined within the second end 140w of the safety shield 64w and a corresponding recess defined within the distal end of the needle holder 42w. In yet another embodiment, a first pivot 142w can be disposed on a first side of the distal end of the needle holder 42w and a second pivot 142w can be disposed on a second side of the distal end of the needle holder 42w, the first and second sides of the needle holder 42w being substantially opposite each other. The pivot(s) 142w allow the safety shield 64w to pivot in a rotational manner with respect to the needle holder 42w from a retracted position, as shown in FIG. 36 to an extended position, as previously described.

[0075] FIGS. 37-44 depict yet another embodiment of the present invention, in which a needle assembly 8000, such as a blood collection assembly, having a pivoting safety shield 8064 and a removable cannula shield 8066 engaged with a housing 8005 is generally shown in the restricted position. As shown specifically in FIG. 37, needle assembly 8000 generally includes a cannula structure 8032, associated with a hub 8058 with the pivoting safety shield 8064 connected to the hub 8058 and adapted for safety shielding of the cannula structure 8032 after use of the device. The cannula structure 8032 may include a distal needle portion 8002 and a proximal needle portion 8004. Distal needle portion 8002 and proximal needle portion 8004 may be separate needles, both of which represent needle cannula defining a cannula interior and central lumen extending therethrough. Alternatively, distal needle portion 8002 and proximal needle portion 8004 may be one needle with or without an opening between the ends. The proximal needle portion 8004 represents a non-patient end of the cannula structure 8032, which is provided for puncturing of an evacuated specimen collection container 8003, such as shown in FIG. 58. The proximal needle portion 8004 may be covered by an elastomeric multiple sample sleeve 8008 that can be pierced by a pointed end of proximal needle portion 8004 of the cannula structure 8032. Distal needle portion 8002 represents a patient end of the cannula structure 8032, and may be beveled to define a puncture tip for puncturing the skin of a patient and accessing the vasculature of the patient. The patient end of the distal needle portion 8002 projects at least partially from the distal end 8001 of the housing 8005 opposite the proximal end 8007 of the housing 8005 which is engageable with a specimen collection container 8003.

[0076] In one embodiment, the housing 8005 includes a hub 8058 which includes a distal front hub portion 8010 and a proximal rear hub portion 8012 and is capable of supporting the cannula structure 8032 therethrough. In one embodiment, the distal needle portion 8002 may be integral with the front hub portion 8010 and the proximal needle portion 8004 may be integral with the rear hub portion 8012. The front hub portion 8010 and the rear hub portion 8012 are structured to matingly engage. At least one of the front hub portion 8010 and the rear hub portion 8012 may include a protrusion, such as a raised annular ring for engaging a corresponding recess integral to the other of the front hub portion 8010 and the rear hub portion 8012. In another embodiment, the front hub portion 8010 and the rear hub portion 8012 may be joined together via an adhesive or weld. Once assembled, the hub 8058 defines a flashback indicator 8060 therein, as previously described. The hub 8058 may also include a porous vent 8061 as also previously described.

[0077] The hub 8058 may further include a collar 8018 for surrounding at least a portion of the safety shield 8064, such as an attachment bearing 8020 of the safety shield 8064, as previously described herein. In one embodiment, the front hub portion 8010 includes a first collar portion 8022 and the rear hub portion 8012 includes a second collar portion 8024. The first collar portion 8022 may include a generally c-shaped region for accommodating the attachment bearing 8020 of the safety shield 8064 therein. In one embodiment, the first collar portion 8022 may include a chamfered portion adjacent the c-shaped region for further restraining the attachment bearing 8020 therein. The attachment bearing 8020 may be integral with the safety shield 8064. The attachment bearing 8020 may also be integral with a portion of the hub 8058, such as the first collar portion 8022 and/or the second collar portion 8024. Alternatively, the attachment bearing 8020 may be separately provided and subsequently assembled with the safety shield 8064 and/or the hub 8058. The second collar portion 8024 may include an interior surface substantially corresponding to the attachment bearing 8020 of the safety shield 8064, such that when the first collar portion 8022 and the second collar portion 8024 are joined, the safety shield 8064 is fixedly engaged with the housing 8005 and capable of pivoting with respect to the housing 8005. In one embodiment, the safety shield 8064 is capable of pivoting substantially along the longitudinal axis LPivot of the housing 8005, as shown in FIG. 38.

[0078] Referring again to FIG. 37, it is contemplated herein that the needle assembly 8000 may include an integrated specimen collection container holder 8011. The specimen collection container holder 8011 may define an interior 8013 through which a specimen collection container 8003, shown in FIG. 62, may be engaged with the proximal end of the rear hub portion 8012. Optionally, the proximal end of the specimen collection container holder 8011 may be provided with a cover 8017 for maintaining sterility within the interior 8013 of the specimen collection container holder 8011 prior to use, as previously described. Alternatively, although the needle assembly 8000 is depicted as engaged with a specimen collection container holder 8011, it is anticipated herein that the proximal end of the needle assembly 8000 may be provided without a specimen collection container holder 8011 engaged therewith. Specifically, the proximal needle portion 8004 of the cannula structure 8032 may be covered with a proximal needle cover, such as shown and described herein with reference to FIGS. 21-27.

[0079] Referring again to FIG. 37, prior to use of the needle assembly 8000, the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032 is covered with a cannula shield 8066. The cannula shield 8066 is adapted to removably engage a portion of the housing 8005, such as the hub 8058, and to shield at least the patient end of the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032. In one embodiment, a proximal portion 8072 of the cannula shield 8066 is adapted to engage the distal front hub portion 8010. The proximal portion 8072 of the cannula shield 8066 may include an attachment protrusion 8074, having a plurality of attachment ridges 8076 extending outwardly from the attachment protrusion 8074, adapted to engage a receiving recess 8080 of the distal front hub portion 8010 to secure the cannula shield 8066 to the hub 8058. In this configuration, a frictional interference fit is created between the attachment protrusion 8074 and the receiving recess 8080. In a further configuration, the attachment ridges 8076 may be adapted to slightly deform against the inner surface 8081 of the receiving recess 8080 to increase the frictional interference between the cannula shield 8066 and the hub 8058.

[0080] Referring yet again to FIG. 37, the cannula shield 8066 further includes a safety shield engagement 8090, such as a locking tab receiving structure. The safety shield engagement 8090 is adapted for releasably engaging at least a portion of the safety shield 8064 in the restrained position, as shown in FIGS. 38-47, prior to use of the needle assembly 8000. In this embodiment, a portion of the cannula shield 8066 and a portion of the safety shield 8064 are engaged to releasably lock the cannula shield 8066 to the needle assembly 8000 to prevent accidental removal of the cannula shield 8066 from the needle assembly 8000 prior to use. Accordingly, in addition to the frictional interference between the cannula shield 8066 and the hub 8058, the releasable engagement between the cannula shield 8066 and the safety shield 8064 provides an additional locking mechanism to prevent accidental removal of the cannula shield 8066 from the needle assembly 8000. In prior needle assemblies, changes in temperature and other environmental factors could weaken the frictional resistance between protective cover structures and the base assembly causing unintentional release of a protective cover. In the present invention, the releasable engagement between the cannula shield 8066 and the safety shield 8064 provides additional mechanical locking mechanism for further restraining the cannula shield 8066 with the needle assembly 8000 prior to use.

[0081] As shown in FIGS. 38-47, when the needle assembly 8000 is in the restrained position, the cannula shield 8066 is engaged with the safety shield 8064. In this configuration, environmental factors such as changes in temperature or typically manually applied axial force FAxial, as shown in FIG. 38, on the cannula shield 8066 will not disengage the cannula shield 8066 from the needle assembly 8000.

[0082] As shown in FIG. 42, an optional sterility label 9007 can be applied between a portion of the cannula shield 8066 and the housing 8005 to evidence that the cannula shield 8066 has not been removed from the needle assembly 8000 prior to use.

[0083] As shown specifically in FIGS. 45-47, the safety shield engagement 8090 may be a ridge projecting dorsally from an outer surface 8091 of the cannula shield 8066, such as in a generally upwardly direction. The safety shield engagement 8090 may extend along at least a portion of a longitudinal axis of the cannula shield LCannulaShield, as shown in FIG. 45. As shown in FIG. 47, the ridge may include a first ridge portion 9008 and a second ridge portion 9010 separated by a divided region 9006. In a further configuration, the first ridge portion 9008 and the second ridge portion 9010 may include corresponding beveled edge portions 9012, 9014 disposed to opposingly face the outer surface 8091 and separated from the outer surface 8091 by a neck region 9018.

[0084] Referring again to FIGS. 45-47, the safety shield 8064 may be provided with a first depending arm 9000 and a second depending arm 9002, constructed to form a press-fit lock with at least a portion of the cannula shield 8066. In one configuration, the first depending arm 9000 includes a first locking tab 9032, and the second depending arm 9002 includes a second locking tab 9034, with each of the first locking tab 9032 and the second locking tab 9034 adapted to releasably engage the safety shield engagement 8090. In a further configuration, the first locking tab 9032 releasably engages the first ridge portion 9008 and the second locking tab 9034 releasably engages the second ridge portion 9010. Each of the first locking tab 9032 and the second locking tab 9034 may have an engagement surface 9040, 9041 corresponding to the beveled edge portions 9012, 9014 to provide a resistance interference therebetween. In a further configuration, the engagement surface 9040, 9041 may have an upwardly angled slope and/or an opposingly corresponding beveled edge to increase the interference resistance when engaged with the first ridge portion 9008 and the second ridge portion 9010.

[0085] The engagement of the safety shield engagement 8090 of the cannula shield 8066 and the locking tab 9032, 9034 of the safety shield 8064 are provided in a detent arrangement to releasably restrain the safety shield 8064 with the cannula shield 8066. The detent arrangement prevents unintentional removal of the cannula shield 8066 from the housing 8005 of the needle assembly 8000. The detent arrangement is adapted to resist disengagement until an intentionally upwardly directed force is imparted to the safety shield 8064 in a direction opposite the cannula shield 8066, as shown in FIG. 46 by the arrow FApplied. The intentionally upwardly directed force may be imparted by typically manually pressure applied by a medical practitioner. As such a force is applied, the first locking tab 9032 and the second locking tab 9034 of the safety shield 8064 are deflected laterally in opposing directions, as shown by arrows FDeflection in FIG. 47. Once the first locking tab 9032 and the second locking tab 9034 are deflected laterally, the engagement of the first locking tab 9032 with the first ridge portion 9008 and the engagement of the second locking tab 9034 with the second ridge portion 9010 are released and detent arrangement of the cannula shield 8066 with the safety shield 8064 is disengaged.

[0086] Once the safety shield 8064 is transitioned from the restrained position, shown in FIGS. 38-47, to the retracted position, shown in FIGS. 48-52, the detent arrangement between the safety shield 8064 and the cannula shield 8066 has been disengaged. Disengagement of the detent arrangement allows a medical practitioner to subsequently remove the cannula shield 8066 from the needle assembly 8000 by applying manual force along the longitudinal axis of the cannula shield LCannula Shield, as shown in FIG. 45. Removal of the cannula shield 8066 from the needle assembly 8000 causes the sterility label 9007, shown in FIG. 42, to break, thereby evidencing exposure of the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032, shown in FIG. 52.

[0087] Once the needle assembly 8000 is transitioned to the retracted position and the cannula shield 8066, shown engaged with the needle assembly 8000 in FIGS. 48-52, is removed, the distal needle portion 8002 of the needle assembly 8000 is exposed and ready for use by a medical practitioner to contact the vasculature of a patient, as shown in FIGS. 53-57. As used herein, the term "retracted position" means the position in which the safety shield 8064 is pivoted away from the patient end of the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032. Once the safety shield 8064 is transitioned to the retracted position and the cannula shield 8066, shown in FIGS. 37-47, is removed, the flashback indicator 8060 defined within the hub 8058 may be visible to a medical practitioner, as previously described herein, for providing visual evidence of contact between the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032 and the patient's vasculature. As shown in FIG. 58, a specimen collection container 8003 may be inserted into the interior 8013 of the specimen collection container holder 8011 of the needle assembly 8000 during use of the needle assembly in a vasculature access medical procedure. As also shown in FIG. 58, the exterior profile 9050 of the safety shield 8064 and the exterior profile 9052 of the housing 8005 may have a substantially corresponding profile to provide enhanced user stability.

[0088] Once the needle assembly 8000, in particular the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032 has been removed from contact with the patient, the safety shield 8064 may be transitioned to the extended position, as shown in FIGS. 59-68. The safety shield 8064 is transitionable over the distal needle portion 8002 of the cannula structure 8032 from a retracted position in which the patient directed distal needle portion 8002 is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient directed distal needle portion 8002 is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield 8064. It is noted that transition of the safety shield 8064 from the retracted position to the extended position is possible only after the cannula shield 8066, shown in FIGS. 37-53, has been removed from the needle assembly 8000. Accordingly, removal of the cannula shield 8066 from the housing 8005 allows for transition of the safety shield 8064 from the retracted position, shown in FIGS. 48-58, to the extended position, shown in FIGS. 59-68. It is further noted that transition from the extended position to the retracted position does not automatically occur once the cannula shield 8066 is removed from the needle assembly 8000, but rather a medical practitioner must apply a downwardly directed force on a portion of the safety shield 8064, such as the thumb-press region 9063, to transition to safety shield 8064 from the retracted position to the extended position, as previously described.

[0089] As shown specifically in FIGS. 63-64, once the safety shield 8064 is transitioned to the extended position, the first locking tab 9032 of the first depending arm 9000 and the second locking tab 9034 of the second depending arm 9002 engage with and lock to at least a portion of the housing 8005, such as the front hub portion 8010, as previously described. Specifically, the engagement surface 9040 of the first locking tab 9032, and the engagement surface 9041 of the second locking tab 9034, may each engage a portion of the housing 8005 to fixedly and substantially non-removably secure the safety shield 8064 over the distal needle portion 8002.

[0090] As shown in FIG. 65, the engagement surface 9040 of the first locking tab 9032 of the first depending arm 9000 of the safety shield 8064 engages a first ledge 9073 of the front hub portion 8010 at least partially supporting the cannula structure 8032, as previously described herein with reference to FIG. 13. Also shown in FIG. 65, engagement surface 9041 of the second locking tab 9034 of the second depending arm 9002 of the safety shield 8064 engages a second ledge 9075 of the front hub portion 8010 at least partially supporting the cannula structure 8032, as also previously described herein with reference to FIG. 13. It is anticipated herein that the engagement surface 9040 of the first locking tab 9032 and the engagement surface 9041 of the second locking tab 9034 may engage the flashback indicator 8060. It is also anticipated herein that the engagement surface 9040 of the first locking tab 9032 and the engagement surface 9041 of the second locking tab 9034 may engage a portion of the housing 8005, such as the hub 8058 at a location that is distal to the flashback indicator 8060. The engagement surfaces 9040, 9041 of the safety shield 8064 are adapted to fixedly engage the housing 8005 to prevent disengagement thereof absent malicious force. Accordingly, the first locking tab 9032 and the second locking tab 9034 releasably engage a portion of the cannula shield 8066 in the restrained position, shown in FIGS. 37-53, and fixedly engage a portion of the housing 8005, such as the front hub portion 8010, in the extended position, shown in FIGS. 59-68.

[0091] As shown in FIG. 66, the safety shield 8064 may also include a deformable needle restraint 9077 for deflecting over cannula structure 8032 as the safety shield 8064 is transitioned to the extended position by applying force in the direction of arrow FExtended, as shown in FIG. 66. Once the deformable needle restraint 9077 is engaged over the cannula structure 8032, the deformable needle restraint 9077 resists deflection upon application of a reversing force applied to the safety shield 8064 in the direction of arrow FReverse, as also shown in FIG. 66.

[0092] As previously described, it is anticipated herein that the housing 8005 of the needle assembly 8000 may or may not include a specimen collection container holder 8011, as shown in FIGS. 37-44. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 69-70, a needle assembly 9080 may include a non-patient cannula shield 9081 disposed over the proximal needle portion 8004 in place of a specimen collection container holder. This configuration is similarly described herein with reference to FIGS. 21-27, with the exception that, as shown in FIGS. 69-70, the needle assembly 9080 includes a cannula shield 8066A having a safety shield engagement 8090A, such as a ridge. As previously described, the safety shield engagement 8090A is releasably engageable with the safety shield 8064A in the restrained position. The safety shield 8064A is transitionable from the restrained position to the retracted position and is subsequently transitionable from the retracted position to the extended position, as also previously described. The safety shield 8064A is releasably engaged with the cannula shield 8066A in the restrained position, and is fixedly engaged with a portion of the housing 8005A in the extended position, once the cannula shield 8066A has been removed from engagement with the housing 8005A.

[0093] As shown in FIGS. 71-75, assembly of a needle assembly as described herein may be accomplished by assembling a first sub-assembly 9090 and subsequently joining the first sub-assembly 9090 with a second sub-assembly 9091 by press-fit engagement. The first sub-assembly 9090 may include elements previously described herein with reference to FIGS. 37-68 including a hub 8058, a distal hub portion 8010, a flashback indicator 8060, a cannula structure 8032, a cannula shield 8066 removably engaged with the hub 8058, and a pivoting safety shield 8064 fixedly engaged with a portion of the hub 8058. The safety shield 8064 being transitionable from a restricted position to a retracted position, and subsequently transitionable from a retracted position to an extended position. The safety shield 8064 and the cannula shield 8066 being releasably engaged therewith in the restricted position. The safety shield 8064 fixedly engaged with a portion of the flashback indicator 8060 and/or the distal hub portion 8010 in the extended position. The second sub-assembly 9091 includes a specimen collection container holder 8011 having an interior 8013, as previously described herein with reference to FIGS. 37-44, through which a specimen collection container 8003, shown in FIG. 58, may be engaged with the proximal end of the hub 8058 or proximal rear hub portion 8012.

[0094] As shown in FIGS. 74-75, the first sub-assembly 9090 includes a first portion 9092 for press-fit engagement with the second sub-assembly 9091. The second sub-assembly 9091 includes a second portion 9093 for press-fit engagement with the first sub-assembly 9090. The first portion 9092 may include a first abutment surface 9094 for engaging a first restraining surface 9095 of the second portion 9093. The engagement of first abutment surface 9094 and first restraining surface 9095 substantially prevents movement between the first sub-assembly 9090 and the second sub-assembly 9091 in the proximal or rightwardly direction along the longitudinal axis LSub-Assembly as shown in FIG. 74.

[0095] Also shown in FIGS. 74-75, the first sub-assembly 9090 includes a second restraining surface 9096 for restraining a second abutment surface 9097 of the second sub-assembly 9091. The engagement of second abutment surface 9097 and second restraining surface 9096 substantially prevents movement between the first sub-assembly 9090 and the second sub-assembly 9091 in the distal or leftwardly direction along the longitudinal axis LSub-Assembly as shown in FIG. 74. Additionally, the second sub-assembly 9091 may include a restraining portion 9099 adapted for receipt within a neck portion 9098 of the first sub-assembly 9090 to further secure the first sub-assembly 9090 with the second sub-assembly 9091. The restraining portion 9099 may include an engagement surface 10001 for engaging a restraining tab 10002. In one configuration, engagement of the first sub-assembly 9090 and the second sub-assembly 9091 requires a deflection of at least one of first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 to provide an interference therebetween. During engagement, an axial force is applied along the longitudinal axis Lsub-Assembly as shown in FIG. 74 to deflect at least one of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 against the other of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093. In a further embodiment, the engagement of the first sub-assembly 9090 and the second sub-assembly 9091 includes a two-stage press-fit engagement. In the first stage, during applied axial force a first portion of at least one of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 against the other of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 occurs. In the second stage, still during applied axial force, a second portion of at least one of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 against the other of the first portion 9092 and the second portion 9093 occurs. For example, the restraining portion 9099 may first deflect against the first abutment surface 9094, and subsequently deflect against the second restraining surface 9096.

[0096] Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 76-79, engagement of a first sub-assembly 9090B and a second sub-assembly 9091B may include a portion of the first portion 9092B including locking teeth 10004 for engagement with a corresponding section 10006 of the second portion 9093B. In this configuration, the first sub-assembly 9090B and the second sub-assembly 9091B are engaged in press-fit configuration, and the further engagement of the locking teeth 10004 and the corresponding section 10006 further secure the first sub-assembly 9090B and the second sub-assembly 9091B against proximally or distally applied forces along the longitudinal axis Lsub-Assembly as shown in FIG. 74.

[0097] In yet another configuration, as shown in FIGS. 80-83, the first sub-assembly 9090C and the second sub-assembly 9091C may be secured by the above-described press-fit engagement of the first portion 9092C and the second portion 9093C, and by corresponding threaded engagement therebetween. In one configuration, at least a portion of the first portion 9092C and at least a portion of the second portion 9093C include corresponding mating surfaces for threaded engagement therebetween. As shown in FIG. 83, the first portion 9092C includes a plurality of threads 9194 for engagement with a plurality of corresponding recesses 9195 defined within the second portion 9093C. As also shown in FIG. 83, the first sub-assembly 9090C and the second sub-assembly 9091C may be press-fit engaged by interaction between a series of raised annular ridges and corresponding recesses. In one embodiment, the second sub-assembly 9091C may include at least one raised annular ridge 9100 extending outwardly within an interior 9113 of the second sub-assembly 9091C. The first sub-assembly 9090C may include at least one corresponding recess 9115 defined within a portion of the first portion 9092C and adapted to receive the raised annular ridge 9100 therein.

[0098] In each of the above-described press-fit engagements between the first sub-assembly 9090 and the second sub-assembly 9091, the press-fit engagement prevents disengagement of the first sub-assembly 9090 from the second sub-assembly 9091 upon engagement of a specimen collection container, such as shown as item 8003 in FIG. 58, with the proximal end of the hub 8058 and/or proximal rear hub portion 8012, each shown for example in FIG. 37. The above-described press-fit engagement mechanisms provide improved stability over sub-assemblies that are affixed together through adhesives, as they are temperature independent and resist additional environmental changes. The above-described press-fit engagement mechanisms also provide improved stability over sub-assemblies that are joined together through threaded engagement alone, as the press-fit mechanisms cannot become engaged through unintentionally applied rotational forces.

[0099] While specific embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. The present embodiments described herein are meant to be illustrative only, and not limiting as to the scope of the invention, which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and any and all equivalents thereof. Various other embodiments will be apparent to, and readily made by those skilled in the art, without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.


Claims

1. A needle assembly, comprising:

a housing, having a distal end, and a proximal end;

a cannula extending distally from the housing, the cannula comprising a patient end;

a pivoting safety shield fixedly engaged with a portion of the housing, the safety shield transitionable over the cannula from a retracted position in which the patient end is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield; and

a cannula shield releasably engaged with a portion of the housing and shielding at least the patient end of the cannula, wherein the cannula shield comprises a safety shield engagement, the pivoting safety shield releasably engaged with the safety shield engagement,

wherein removal of the cannula shield from the housing allows for transition of the safety shield from the retracted position to the extended position.


 
2. The blood collection assembly of claim 1, wherein the safety shield engagement is a ridge projecting dorsally from an outer surface of the cannula shield and extending along at least a portion of a longitudinal axis of the cannula shield, wherein the pivoting safety shield preferably further comprises at least one locking tab adapted to releasably engage the ridge.
 
3. The blood collection assembly of claim 2, wherein the ridge comprises a beveled edge and the locking tab comprises an engagement surface corresponding to the beveled edge to provide a resistance interference therebetween and/or wherein at least a portion of the ridge is engageable with at least a portion of the locking tab in a detent arrangement to restrain the pivoting safety shield with the cannula shield.
 
4. The blood collection assembly of claim 3, wherein the detent arrangement is adapted to resist disengagement until a force is imparted to the pivoting safety shield in a manner capable of moving the pivoting safety shield from the restrained position to the retracted position.
 
5. The blood collection assembly of claim 3, wherein the detent arrangement prevents unintentional removal of the cannula shield from the housing and/or wherein disengagement of the detent arrangement enables removal of the cannula shield from the housing and/or wherein release of the detent arrangement allows the pivoting safety shield to pivot from a restrained position to the retracted position.
 
6. The blood collection assembly of claim 1, wherein the housing further comprises a flash indicator, and the cannula interior is provided in fluid communication with the flash indicator.
 
7. A needle assembly, comprising:

a housing having a distal end and a proximal end;

a cannula extending distally from the housing, the cannula comprising a patient end;

a cannula shield removably engaged with a portion of the housing, and comprising a locking tab receiving structure; and

a pivoting safety shield engaged with a portion of the housing and transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end of the cannula is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end of the cannula is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield, the safety shield comprising at least one locking tab;

wherein the locking tab receiving structure is adapted to receive the locking tab when the pivoting safety shield is in a restrained position.


 
8. The needle assembly of claim 7, wherein the locking tab extends from an internal wall of the pivoting safety shield and/or wherein the pivoting safety shield is pivotable about a hinge
 
9. The needle assembly of claim 7, wherein when the cannula shield is removed from the needle assembly, the safety shield is capable of lockingly engaging at least one of the cannula or housing when the safety shield is in the extended position and/or wherein when the pivoting safety shield is in the restrained position, the locking tab and locking tab receiving structure resist disengagement until a force is imparted to the pivoting safety shield in a manner capable of moving the safety shield from the restrained position to the retracted position and/or
 
10. A blood collection assembly, comprising:

a first sub-assembly comprising,

a hub comprising, a flash indicator, having a distal end and a proximal end engageable with a specimen collection container,

a cannula extending between a patient end and a non-patient end, defining a cannula interior, the patient end of the cannula projecting at least partially from the distal end of the hub, the cannula interior in fluid communication with the flash indicator,

a cannula shield removably engaged with the distal end of the hub and shielding at least the patient end of the cannula, and

a pivoting safety shield fixedly engaged with a portion of the hub and transitionable from a retracted position in which the patient end is exposed, to an extended position in which the patient end is shielded by at least a portion of the safety shield; and

a second sub-assembly comprising a specimen collection container holder having an interior through which a specimen collection container may be engaged with the proximal end of the hub,

wherein the first sub-assembly further comprises a first portion for press-fit engagement with the second sub-assembly, and the second sub-assembly comprises a corresponding second portion for press-fit engagement with the first sub-assembly.


 
11. The blood collection assembly of claim 10, wherein the cannula shield comprises a safety shield engagement, and the safety shield comprises at least one locking tab releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement, wherein the locking tab is releasably engageable with the safety shield engagement in a restrained position and fixedly engageable with a portion of the housing in the extended position.
 
12. The blood collection assembly of claim 11, wherein the safety shield engagement is a ridge projecting upwardly from an outer surface of the cannula shield and extending along at least a portion of a longitudinal axis of the cannula shield, and at least a portion of the ridge is engageable with at least a portion of the locking tab in a detent arrangement to restrain the safety shield with the cannula shield.
 
13. The blood collection assembly of claim 12, wherein release of the detent arrangement allows the safety shield to pivot from a restrained position to the retracted position and/or wherein removal of the cannula shield from the housing allows for transition of the safety shield from the retracted position to the extended position.
 
14. The blood collection assembly of claim 10, wherein engagement of the first portion and the second portion comprises deflection of at least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide an interference therebetween.
 
15. The blood collection assembly of claim 10, wherein the first portion and the second portion comprise a two-stage press-fit engagement, wherein engagement of the first portion and the second portion comprises a first deflection of at a portion of least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide an interference therebetween, and a second deflection of at least a portion of at least one of the first portion and the second portion to provide a second interference therebetween and/or wherein at least a portion of the first portion and at least a portion of the second portion comprise corresponding mating surfaces for threaded engagement therebetween.
 
16. The blood collection assembly of claim 10, wherein the press-fit engagement of the first portion of the first sub-assembly and the second portion of the second sub-assembly prevents disengagement of the first sub-assembly from the second sub-assembly upon engagement of a specimen collection container with the proximal end of the hub.
 




Drawing













































































































































































Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description