ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Education Department oversees the licensure of nurses in the state.
Unlike 40 other states, New York does not require fingerprinting or background checks as a condition for obtaining a nursing license.
Anyone who applies for a nursing position must disclose past misconduct or criminal convictions, but according to the audit, 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 be completed within 42 days.
Auditors found, on average, it took the department around 228 days to complete the investigations.
The state Comptroller’s recommendations include more closely tracking investigations and strengthening procedures when it comes to nurse licensing.
The State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli issued this statement:
[The State Education Department has clear policies and procedures for vetting potential nurses and monitoring and investigating those on the job, but] my auditors found the department is not always meeting its own goals, which is potentially putting patients’ health and safety at risk. SED has taken steps to improve the process but more is needed to identify the few bad actors from the many responsible professionals who’ve chosen nursing as their career.”
The State Education Department released this statement in response:
“The Department is committed to ensuring the public’s protection through the licensing and oversight of New York’s professionals. We take all allegations of misconduct and neglect of duty against licensed professionals extremely seriously. It’s also important to note that for the past two years the Department has sought legislation to modernize and enhance our authority over the licensed professions, including the authority to issue summary suspensions of individuals’ licenses where there is an imminent danger to the public’s health or safety. We will continue to work with the Legislature to get this important public protection bill enacted.