ALBANY, N.Y. — Investigators who look into serious complaints against New York nurses take nearly five times longer to finish their probes than they’re supposed to.

A new audit released Friday by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows that it takes the state’s Education Department an average of 228 days to complete investigations into complaints involving allegations such as sexual misconduct or working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

These investigations are supposed to be completed within 42 days.

The Democrat says the delays could put patients at risk.

The Education Department oversees licensing for dozens of professions, including nursing. Officials there say they’re working on a comprehensive review of old complaints and taking steps to ensure complaints are handled in a timely manner.

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