Terry Ragland filed a complaint with Tennessee’s Department of Health after Dr. Timothy Sweo diagnosed her back pain as “ghetto booty” following an April visit.
“I think I blacked out after he said ghetto booty. I think my mind was just stuck on the phrase because I couldn’t believe he said that,” the 55-year-old Ragland stated.
Ragland said Dr. Sweo sent her for X-rays, then came in and gave his diagnosis, which shocked her.
“He said there’s no cure for it but I could give you something if you’re having pain,” Ragland said.
Ragland told an office manager what happened and she said the manager apologized. A few weeks later she received a letter from the doctor.
“I was trying to take a technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.” Dr. Sweo reportedly wrote in the letter.
The letter offended Ragland, though, because she felt he didn’t believe she had enough intellect to understand his more technical explanation of her lower back pain.
Dr. Sweo admitted to using the term as he was trying to explain to Ragland that she had “lumbar lordosis,” the medical term for a curve in her spine.
“I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it,” Sweo said.
Ragland has filed a complaint with the state, which will follow up and see if the claim is founded. The information will then be presented to the Board of Medical Examiners officer, who will determine if there will be disciplinary action.
“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 stated.
In Sweo’s history in Tennessee, he has not faced any disciplinary action.
“That was probably inappropriate. She certainly felt that way and I won’t do that anymore,” Sweo added.