In Irish healthcare system, nurses are autonomous practitioners with each accountable for his or her own practice and the decisions made therein. The code of professional conduct calls for a high standard of professional behaviour from the nurses, regulating the nursing and midwifery practice in order to ensure standards and proving protection for the clients. Nursing, in essence, is a care system that springs from safe, caring, and competent and educated decision making, and nurse is a professional who is willing to accept personal and professional accountability for evidence-based practice (Wiseman, 2007, 167-173).
Ethical decisions are made in nursing in every moment of care without being conscious about the particular theories on which these decisions are made. Ethics implies transparency and public accountability. There are two different ways of viewing ethics, normative and descriptive. Normative or prescriptive principles of ethics lead to the professional codes of conduct. Theories of ethics are most useful in nursing for reflections on situation and for discussions of value formation. The heart of ethics is concerned with justice and truth and how the principles interrelate with each other and with behaviour between people. Nurses have generally concerned themselves with the normative aspects of ethics, since they have always been involved with wider issues of health, such as the significance and meaning of suffering and death and the role and purpose of caring and compassion (Griffith and Tengnah, 2005, 339-343).
Theories of ethics tend to be exclusive and consistent only within their own reasoning. To make them accessible, clear principles are needed that embody and cover the main tenets of the theories. The best known approach to ethics within healthcare is that propagated by the four principles of respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. However, this set does not include specific mention of truth telling or