The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

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Case study: How Cardinal Health promotes patient safety

Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal Health plays an important role in the healthcare industry by acting as a crucial link between the clinical and operational worlds, focused on helping its customers improve the lives of people every day. Cardinal Health’s quality policy affirms its commitment to patient safety and to providing products and services that meet or exceed the expectations of its customers.

This case study is based on the 2019 Corporate Citizenship Report by Cardinal Health published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Patient safety and product quality are foundational to Cardinal Health’s business  Tweet This!, with safety and quality policies and procedures guiding Cardinal Health through the process of manufacturing, distribution and marketing. In order to promote patient safety Cardinal Health took action to:
  • implement a quality management system
  • provide product quality training
  • measure and monitor effectiveness
  • apply corrective and preventive action (CAPA) systems
  • meet product materials restrictions
  • implement supplier quality programmes

What are the material issues the company has identified?            

In its 2019 Corporate Citizenship Report Cardinal Health identified a range of material issues, such as ethics and compliance, data privacy and security, environmental emissions and impact, supply chain management. Among these, promoting patient safety stands out as a key material issue for Cardinal Health.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Cardinal Health engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Peer companies

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Cardinal Health asked internal stakeholders to respond to a survey to assess their level of concern about each topic.

What actions were taken by Cardinal Health to promote patient safety?

In its 2019 Corporate Citizenship Report Cardinal Health reports that it took the following actions for promoting patient safety:

  • Implementing a quality management system
  • Cardinal Health’s quality management system is built on the requirements and guiding principles of patient and user safety, regulatory compliance and continuous improvement. Cardinal Health implements quality procedures that take into account the regulatory requirements for the markets worldwide where it manufactures or distributes products. Cardinal Health tracks quality performance in its businesses and within its sites with metrics that are regularly reviewed at sites, in management review meetings and as part of its goal-setting process, also maintaining quality certification to global industry standards. More than 100 of Cardinal Health’s manufacturing, distribution and other operating facilities are certified to ISO 13485:2016 (Medical Devices — Quality Management Systems) standards.
  • Providing product quality training
  • Cardinal Health employees responsible for product quality are trained in current good manufacturing practices. Non-manufacturing teams receive product training, including regulatory and quality standards, as appropriate.
  • Measuring and monitoring effectiveness
  • Cardinal Health conducts internal audits to verify that its global quality system conforms to internal and external requirements and is effectively implemented and maintained. Worldwide health authorities also review Cardinal Health’s performance to ensure quality and compliance. During FY19, Cardinal Health had more than 300 external regulatory inspections across all its businesses.
  • Applying corrective and preventive action (CAPA) systems
  • Cardinal Health maintains corrective and preventive action (CAPA) systems that assist it in investigating actual or potential product quality or safety issues to find root causes and prevent occurrences or recurrences. Cardinal Health initiates corrective actions (such as product advisories, field actions or recalls) as necessary to help ensure quality and safety issues are quickly and effectively addressed.
  • Meeting product materials restrictions
  • Cardinal Health’s global strategies and programmes help to make sure that it meets product materials restrictions, including the EU RoHS2 Directive, EU REACH Regulation and others. As part of its product quality reviews, Cardinal Health consults several lists, including California Proposition 65, EU Medical Devices Regulation, EU REACH Substances of Very High Concern, EU RoHS and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
  • Implementing supplier quality programmes
  • Cardinal Health has supplier quality programmes for the materials and components used in the products that it self-manufactures and the selection, qualification and oversight of suppliers that manufacture products on its behalf. These programmes focus on patient safety and regulatory compliance. Controls such as quality system audits and CAPAs are designed to provide assurance that the facilities manufacturing the materials or components that Cardinal Health procures have quality systems in place, so that final product complies with its specifications and adheres to regulatory requirements. Cardinal Health conducts routine quality audits of suppliers as required by law.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 416-1 Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories

Disclosure 416-1 Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories does not correspond to any SDG.


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP



1) This case study is based on published information by Cardinal Health, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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