“Ghetto Boody” Diagnosis Gets Tennessee Doctor in Hot Water – Endearing or Insulting? [POLL]
Question: When a doctor diagnoses an African American patient’s lower back pain as “ghetto boody” who, in turn, pitches a fit; do you feel she’s being oversensitive in being insulted, or right in being insulted?
Frankly I’m a little amazed in this day and time that a doctor, who by his own admission, was trying to make light of something like that.
But that’s what the putz did.
And for that, he’s under investigation.
Do you think there should be any sanction or none?
A sports medicine doctor in Tennessee managed to be racist, sexist and condescending all at once, by giving a patient the diagnosis of ‘ghetto booty.’
55-year-old Terry Ragland was experiencing some lower back pain, so she decided to get it checked out at Sports Orthopedics & Spine in Jackson, Tennessee – a clinic she had been to before when she had knee surgery.
But this time she saw a different doctor, and the experience only added insult to her injury.
After having x-rays taken, Dr. Timothy Sweo came in to tell Ragland his diagnosis.
‘He said “I know what the problem is: It’s ghetto booty”‘ Ragland told WREG.
‘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 said.
Dr. Sweo went on to say that there’s no cure for ghetto booty, but that he could prescribe some medication for her pain.
When Ragland was leaving the office she asked to speak to the office manager, and complained about the comment.
A few weeks later she got a letter from Dr Sweo in the mail, addressing the incident.
He explained that he ‘was trying to take a technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.’
But that comment only further enraged Ragland who felt that he was dumbing it down for her.
‘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.’
Dr Sweo was contacted by WREG reporters, and while he apologized for the comment, it didn’t seem like he entirely regretted saying it.
He said he was trying to explain her condition – lumbar lordosis – which is the curve of the lower spine which makes the buttocks protrude more.
‘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.’
‘I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it,’ he said.
It’s not a mistake Sweo will be repeating.
‘That was probably inappropriate. She certainly felt that way and I won’t do that anymore,’ he said.
‘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 about the diagnosis.
A medical professor agrees, and says that’s not how medical students are taught to interact with patients.
Dr Samueal Dagogo-Jack, a professor at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences said: ‘I would not consider such diction as having any place in the clinical encounter.’
‘Treating people with dignity is very important and is an essential ingredient to a successful outcome.’
Ragland has filed a complaint with the state and they will investigate the claim. The information will be presented to the Board of Medical Examiners officers who will determine how, or if to take disciplinary action with Dr. Sweo.
Dr Sweo has not faced disciplinary action during his medical career in Tennessee.
I don’t think there’s any way the expression would be acceptable; unless, of course, the doctor and the patient were very familiar with each other.
And even at that, I might be skittish on diagnosing a patient I’d known with as “endearing” (not so much!) an expression as “ghetto boody”!