Jackson, Tenn. (CBS St. Louis) — A Tennessee woman experiencing great pain from her lower back received a diagnosis from the doctor that also hurt: “ghetto booty.”

Terry Ragland, 55, said she couldn’t believe the words uttered by Dr. Timothy Sweo during the April appointment at Sports Orthopedics & Spine in Jackson, Tenn.

“He said, ‘I know what the problem is. It’s ghetto booty,’” Ragland told CBS-affilliate WREG in Memphis. “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.”

Ragland said this was not her first time at this doctor’s office. She had been there several times before and said her experiences were pleasant, but this is the first time she had seen Dr. Sweo. She then told an office manager what happened, and the staffer apologized for the comment.

Sweo told WREG that Ragland had lumbar lordosis, which is an inward curvature of the spine. Excessive curvature can lead to moderate to severe back pain.

“He said there’s no cure for it but I could give you something if you’re having pain,” said Ragland.

Sweo apologized to Ragland in a letter a few weeks later, explaining he was, “trying to take a technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.”

Sweo added that the term “ghetto booty” is not targeted toward a certain race or ethnicity, and he did not mean to offend anyone. He admitted though that the term was “probably inappropriate,” and he would not be using it anymore.

The claim will be brought to the Board of Medical Examiners to decide if it requires further disciplinary action. Dr. Sweo has not faced any prior disciplinary action in Tennessee.


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