Workers Comp Zone


Readers may be interested to note a recently published book, “Wounded Workers: Tales from a Working Man’s Shrink”.

It’s authored by long-time Bay Area QME/AME Dr. Bob Larsen. Larsen, based out of San Francisco for much of his career, has been a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF and is a past president of the California Society of Industrial Medicine (CSIMS).

It’s quite rare to see a book offering a QME perspective on the California workers’ comp system. Larsen gives us that, and provides engaging true stories of workers he has evaluated and treated over the years.

Many of the tales are tragic. Cops who have been shot. Helicopter crash victims. A roofer covered in hot tar. A worker who developed movement disorder (tardive dyskinesia) from use of anti-psychotic meds. Burn victims. Delusional folks. A worker raped with a gun. A tree-faller amputee. A doctor who committed hari-kari. Tales of poultry killers and dead cow collectors.

Larsen offers sympathetic and wise perspective on what he has seen:

“Throughout my career as a psychiatrist for working people who have suffered physical injury and emotional trauma on the job, I have been blessed. The challenges these fellow citizens have confronted often have been daunting. My job is to assist those in need to receive the care they are due. It is also to encourage them to not give up, to persevere. If I do my job as observer and coach, then these brothers and sisters may see opportunity where they previously saw no future.”

He notes that:

“Thankfully the career of a physician allows one to give back over and over, provided the work is taken seriously. Doctors are competitive professionals. They often have big egos. When at their best, their complete focus is on the person they are listening to and touching during the examination, and for whom they are providing advocacy. In occupational psychiatry, our patients run a gamut from having no prior contact with a mental health practitioner to having had years of psychotherapy. They are immigrants and also Americans whose relatives fought in our Civil War. Some are illiterate, while others have advanced degrees. To be a successful occupational psychiatrist, one must find common ground with the individual who seeks relief from emotional distress. Walk a mile in that brother’s moccasins.”

Larsen’s book is a worthwhile read, providing insight on a QME’s journey through the system.

“Wounded Workers: Tales from a Working Man’s Shrink” can be ordered through Larsen’s website:

The book is also available on Amazon (

Stay tuned.

Julius Young