Terry Ragland, a 55 year old woman from Tennessee, was experiencing excruciating lower back pain, so she decided to pay a visit to a doctor.
"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 it kind of slips, you know," said Ragland about her discomfort.
Ragland had already been to the Sports Orthopedic & Spine's office for previous knee surgery and her experiences were good, so she went back to have her back checked. Although Ragland had never been treated by him, she scheduled an appointment with Doctor Timothy Sweo, and the diagnosis she received was beyond shocking.
"He said 'I know what the problem is. It's ghetto booty,'" said Ragland referring to Dr. Sweo.
"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," she continued.
Ragland said Dr. Sweo sent her for X-rays, then came in and gave his diagnosis. The doctor said that there was no cure for her condition but he could give her "something" if she was having pain.
She added that she contacted an office manager about what happened. The manager apologized and a few weeks later the patient received a letter from Dr. Sweo himself.
In the letter, Dr. Sweo said, "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," said Ragland.
Sweo admitted off-camera to WREG in Memphis that he said "ghetto booty" to Ragland, who has filed a formal complaint with the state's Department of Health.
"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," he said. "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. You cannot cure lumbar lordosis."
He added that the term "ghetto booty" is not targeted toward a certain race or ethnicity, and he did not mean to offend anyone. Sweo admitted though that the term was "probably inappropriate," and he would not be using it anymore.
The state will determine whether the doctor will be sanctioned, according to the report.