ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state comptroller says there are serious issues with the way the Department of Health is handling nursing home violations across New York state.

Thomas DiNapoli released the results of an audit on Monday, saying there's a need for better policy enforcement in nursing homes.

His audit showed that some facilities have recurring violations that aren't being addressed immediately.

DiNapoli says that while DOH is frequently inspecting nursing homes and acting quickly on serious complaints, those make up less than 4 percent of all violations. The bigger problem, he says, is with how DOH is issuing fines for violations.

"The trend has worsened. In 2014 the average time of when defeciencies first identified and when fines were actually imposed, was as I said was nearly four years. That compares to just 6 months for fines issued in 2007. at the same time, fewer fines are being issued," said DiNapoli

To assure families that their loved ones are in a safe environment, DiNapoli recommends DOH streamline its system to track all violations and the resulting actions, as well as eliminate backlog.