ALBANY, N.Y. (CBS) – New York’s comptroller says the State Education Department needs to improve its process to investigate serious complaints against nurses and more actively monitor professional conduct.
New York State currently doesn’t require fingerprinting or background checks in order to obtain a nursing license, unlike 40 other states.
The New York State Education Department oversees the licensure of nurses in the state.
Anyone who applies for a nursing position must disclose past misconduct or criminal convictions, but according to an audit by the state comptroller’s office, officials have admitted not all nurses have been fully truthful.
The education department is also in charge of investigating any professional misconduct.
The audit says that the department receives around 6,000 complaints against licensed professionals each year.
Investigations into the most serious complaints, including sexual or physical misconduct, are supposed to completed within 42 days.
However, auditors found that on average it took the department around 228 days to complete the investigations.
The State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli says this is unacceptable.
The state education department says it takes allegations of misconduct and neglect seriously and added “the Department has sought legislation to modernize and enhance our authority over the licensed professions”.