Nearly a quarter of a million U.S. lives could have been saved over a recent three-year period if all Medicare patients were treated in the highest-performing hospitals, according to a new report from HealthGrades, the online healthcare publisher. HealthGrades argues that 240,040 Medicare patient lives could have been saved from 2008 to 2010 had hospitalizations occurred at the nation’s finest hospitals. HealthGrades awards five stars to facilities it believes are superior; three stars are given to facilities judged to perform as expected, while one star facilities are viewed as poor performers. Performance is based on risk-adjusted mortality rates using claims data for 18 procedures and diagnoses, with another ten procedures evaluated on the basis of complication rates. The new report permits evaluation of individual hospitals against each of the 28 performance measures; the report also permits users to compare performance among neighboring cities. For more information visit www.HealthGrades.com.