What is a TPA and what do they do? (Third Party Administrator)

Employers, in managing their drug and alcohol testing program, often use what’s called a TPA or a Third-Party Administrator for drug and alcohol testing. So, what’s a TPA? Let’s find out.

Joe Reilly, President of National Drug Screening. We are a TPA. We are a Third-Party Administrator for drug and alcohol testing programs.

We help employers manage and administer their drug and alcohol testing programs. We do this professionally and we help employers avoid liability in their drug and alcohol testing program by what we call ‘doing it right’.

Employers looking for workplace drug testing programs can easily Set Up An Account. Or call for immediate testing – 866-843-4545- or Click to Order a Drug Test.

We want you to be in compliance. We want you to do drug testing in accordance with state laws, and they’re all different across the United States, and we want you to do it in compliance with Federal laws and Department Of Transportation regulations, if you’re regulated by the United States.

So, the TPA or Third-Party Administrator for drug and alcohol testing programs, there’s probably a couple of hundred of them around the nation. Some are big companies, some are very small companies. Some do a great job, some might not do such a great job. So, if you’re going to use a TPA, you want to ask questions. Make sure they’re professional. And you might ask if they’re accredited.

So, at National Drug Screening, we have two national accreditations as a Third-Party Administrator for drug and alcohol testing programs.

We are nationally accredited for the administration of drug and alcohol testing programs by DATIA or the Drug And Alcohol Testing Industry Association, which is now the National Drug & Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA), a long-time trade organization for the drug and alcohol testing administration. We are also an accredited TPA, Third Party Administrator by NDASA, the National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association. So, we maintain both of those certifications and we had to show those organizations that we have very high standards. We have policies and procedures. We operate in accordance with state laws and Federal laws. We do this very professionally. So, if you’re looking to hire a TPA, you want to ask about accreditations.

You want to ask about their Medical Review Officer. What’s the turnaround time. Are there software integrations with the laboratories and the MRO and the drug testing TPA and you, the employer, to get you results fast. When employers call me about drug testing, their number one concerns are how much and how fast. Well, we do it very fast. One of the fastest in the nation. And our prices are fair and affordable. They’re not the cheapest, but they’re not the most expensive. They’re fair and affordable.

So, what does the TPA do? The TPA coordinates all aspects, all aspects of the drug testing. So, we talk about who’re the players in the drug testing, then we’re coordinating. We’re like the general manager. We got the collection site, where your employees go, where your applicants go for drug testing. We got the collector, the person who interacts with your applicant or employee to get the specimen collected, secured, and shipped off to the laboratory. We got a breath alcohol technician who does alcohol testing with a breathalyzer. We have the laboratory.

Now I mentioned the collection site, where people go to give their specimen. A lot of people think they’re going to the lab. They’re not! They’re going to the collection site that collects the specimen. It then gets shipped to the lab. The lab is a huge facility, locked down secure. Nobody walks into a lab to give their specimen because that’s where the testing takes place. And it needs to be very secure, and there’s chain of custody protocols for that testing.

So, laboratories, there’s lots of them all over the country, but there’s only a few that are what we call SAMHSA certified; certified by the Federal government, certified by the Department Of Health And Human Services, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. So, these are the national labs that we utilize in our drug testing that we provide to employers. Those include Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics, CRL or Clinical Reference Laboratories, Alere Toxicology or Abbott, and Medtox, which is also owned by Labcorp.

So, our specimens go to the lab. They get tested. The initial screening? Negative goes to the MRO. Initial screening non-negative goes for further testing; confirmation at the lab.

Now we have the MRO, the Medical Review Officer. They receive the results from the lab. In our case, we have an electronic interface with the MRO. So, they get those results real time. We have five full-time MROs that review those results. We have 12 MRO assistants that help the MROs review those results. Specimens collected today get to the lab early tomorrow morning, and sometime after noon, you get about 90% of your negative results. It’s that fast! Now, there are sometimes where there is a slowdown, a snow storm or tornado, a flood, FedEx trucks break down, hurricane, airplane parts don’t work, but that doesn’t happen very often. 90% of the time we get you back your negative results, the next day.

Besides the MRO, we then have employee assistance programs and substance abuse professionals. These are folks that help people with a drug problem; help people that tested positive, get clean and get back to work.

So, a TPA coordinates all these services for the employer.

Now you might see the term ‘C / TPA’, which stands for ‘Consortium / TPA’ or ‘Consortium / Third Party Administrator’. And that’s a term that was coined by the United States Department Of Transportation back in 2001 when they rewrote the DOT regulations for drug and alcohol testing programs, because TPAs manage consortiums for DOT-required random drug and alcohol testing.

So, for owner operators and the trucking industry, for small trucking companies, their drivers are put into a group of drivers with other companies, we call it a consortium and we do the random testing based on that consortium as a group. And a TPA manages that random testing program for the employer. The TPA provides you reports that you may need for your program.

The TPA provides you consolidated billing for the various services that you’re getting. The TPA can help you manage a drug testing program across many parts of the country, maybe operating in 20 or 30 different states. You don’t need to have 20 or 30 different vendors. The TPA could do all that for you.

Now, you might be going to the local occupational health walk-in clinic in your area, and they might be managing your drug testing program. I would recommend you look into using a professional Third-Party Administrator. The occupational health clinic knows how to fix people up when they get hurt, knows how to treat people, that’s their main business it’s what they specialize in. It’s their bread and butter.

A TPA for drug testing, what they do is drug testing. And they specialize in it. They know the regulations, they know the state laws and they can help you. We have a whole section on TPA on our website at, nationaldrugscreening.com. Visit that, just go to the search bar with the magnifying glass and put in ‘TPA’ and you’ll see all our information about our services as a Third-Party Administrator.

We have very robust software. You can schedule a drug test electronically, you can get results back by email, you can access our web portal to get results back.

We can provide you with written policies, education, supervisor training. Whatever you need for your drug and alcohol testing program. And remember, deal with a professional Third-Party Administrator. Ask them if they’re accredited. At National Drug Screening, we maintain two national accreditations. We train our team constantly. We know the laws, we know the regulations and we’ll keep your company in compliance when it comes to drug and alcohol testing.