It is not difficult to predict the future of hospital epidemiology. It will become increasingly important. The need to prevent and control hospital-acquired infections and to protect the staff from communicable diseases will grow. Hospitals will continue to be filled with patients, life-prolonging technical advances will continue to be introduced, resistance will emerge to the new antimicrobial agents, the number of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) will increase and the population will continue to age. Concomitant increases in costs and demands for accountability and for quality assurance will occur (Table 1).
The future for practitioners of hospital epidemiology is less assured. We will have to continue to convince hospital administrators that we are more than “bean counters” engaged mainly in surveillance. We must assure them that the benefits of our work justify the costs of maintaining effective infection control units and that we are dedicated to prevention and control.