State auditors say the New York Health Department has been slow to penalize nursing homes for violations, often choosing not to levy fines or taking several years to actually impose them.
In a report Monday, the comptroller's office says its analysis shows that from January 2014 to last July the department collected only 12 fines totaling $152,000, less than one-fourth of the fines levied in 2011.
The Health Department oversees 631 nursing homes where more than 96,000 New Yorkers reside.
Advocates for nursing home residents say the fines are so weak that they don't deter substandard care and neglect.
In response to an audit draft, the department says it recognized delays in issuing fines, updated its enforcement process last year and began clearing its backlog.