JACKSON, Tenn. — A woman in Tennessee filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health after she said a doctor told her that her back pain was caused by her ‘ghetto booty.’
“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,” said Terry Ragland, 55.
Ragland said she had been to the doctor’s office several times before, but this was the first time she had seen this particular doctor.
The doctor ordered x-rays for her, then returned with the diagnosis.
Ragland said she complained to the office manager, who apologized. Then, a few weeks later she received a letter from Dr. Timothy Sweo himself.
In the letter, Dr. Sweo said, “I was trying to take technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.”
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 said Ragland has lumbar lordosis, which is a fancy name for the curve of the lower spine that makes the buttocks protrude more.
He said there is no cure for lumbar lordosis, but told her he could give her something for the pain.
“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.
Dr. Sweo did not want to be interviewed on camera, but said, “I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it.”