The Winawer Widget: Device for Facile Detection of Intravenous Fluid Flow


Summary of Invention

Current standard intravenous (IV) fluid delivery apparatuses contain an IV fluid bag and two lengths of clear tubing connected by a clear drip chamber.  Since both the IV fluid and the components of the IV apparatus are clear, it is difficult to tell if IV fluid is flowing properly.  Medical complications can occur if IV fluid stops flowing, including interruption in fluid/medicine delivery and clogging of the IV lines, which can necessitate manual clearing of the line and/or establishing a new IV line.  Such activities increase patient anxiety as well as the burden on nursing staff.  While sophisticated optical and electrical sensors for the detection of IV fluid flow have been described previously, these systems are too costly for introduction into the general hospital population.   

Dr. Sidney Winawer has developed an inexpensive device for the facile detection of IV fluid flow.  This device is a “water wheel” with colored blades that is suspended within the drip chamber of a standard IV apparatus.  When IV fluid is flowing properly, the droplets of IV fluid cause the “water wheel” to rotate, and, since the blades of the “water wheel” alternate in color, rotation of the wheel is easily seen by both the nursing staff and the patient.  When IV fluid flow is occluded, the rotation of the “water wheel” ceases, indicating that a mechanical issue with the IV apparatus must be addressed to avoid medical complications.


  • Designed for use with standard equipment
  • Inexpensive
  • Reduced patient anxiety
  • Reduced burden on nursing staff

Stage of Development

Functional prototype built

Lead Inventor

Sidney Winawer, MD, Paul Sherlock Chair in Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering

Patent Information

U.S. Patent Application 14/017,592 pending, filed September 4, 2013

Contact Information

Alexandra Buga, MS, MBA, Business Development Analyst, Office of Technology Development, 646-888-1078,

Stage of Development