Doctor tells patient with back pain she suffers from 'ghetto booty'

Published: Tuesday, July 16 2013 10:50 a.m. MDT

A 55-year-old woman has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health after she says the doctor informed her that she suffers from "ghetto booty."

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A 55-year-old woman has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health after she says the doctor informed her that she suffers from "ghetto booty."

CBS affiliate WREG 3 reports that Terry Ragland, who is black, went to see Dr. Timothy Sweo in April due to back pain.

“It’s one of those things where my hip seems to slip, like it’s slipping out of place a little bit. It’s painful when you get up to go walk," Ragland told WREG 3.

After undergoing X-rays, Sweo gave her the bizarre diagnosis.

“He said, ‘I know what the problem is. It’s ghetto booty,’” Ragland said.

Ragland said she was in shock and asked what the treatments would be.

She said that Sweo told her there is no cure for it, but he could prescribe her pain medication.

“I think I blacked out after he said ghetto booty," Ragland said. "I think my mind was just stuck on the phrase because I couldn’t believe he said that.”

What she actually suffers from is lumbar lordosis, which is a curve of the spine.

Ragland told the office manager what happened and received an apology from the manager. Weeks later, she received a letter from the physician.

Sweo wrote, "I was trying to take a technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.”

“It says to me that he doubts what type of intellect I have, how intelligent I am to be able to understand what he conveys to me in a medical term," Ragland told WREG 3.

“What I was trying to explain to that patient is that she has lumbar lordosis, which is a fancy name for the curve of the lower spine that makes the buttocks protrude more," Sweo told WREG 3 by phone. "In trying to explain that I said that she had ghetto booty, and she didn’t like that apparently. That was my attempt to explain why she had the back problem. It wasn’t the whole problem, but it was part of it, and she got upset about it.

“I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt, but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it."

The state will investigate Ragland's claim and the findings will be presented to the board of medical examiners officer who will determine if there will be any punishment.

“It’s not endearing. It’s not loving. It’s not a compliment. It’s wrong in every aspect, and it’s very demeaning," Ragland said.

Michael Smith is a writer in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.

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