Medication data retrieved from Australian Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) claims for 44 veterans residing in nursing homes and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) claims for 898 nursing home residents were compared with medication data from nursing home records to determine the optimal time interval for retrieving claims data and its validity. Optimal matching was achieved using 12 weeks of RPBS claims data, with 60% of medications in the RPBS claims located in nursing home administration records, and 78% of medications administered to nursing home residents identified in RPBS claims. In comparison, 48% of medications administered to nursing home residents could be found in 12 weeks of PBS data, and 56% of medications present in PBS claims could be matched with nursing home administration records. RPBS claims data was superior to PBS, due to the larger number of scheduled items available to veterans and the veteran's file number, which acts as a unique identifier. These findings should be taken into account when using prescription claims data for medication histories, prescriber feedback, drug utilisation, intervention or epidemiological studies.